Cover Image
close this bookBetter Farming Series 02 - The Plant: the Stem; the Buds; the Leaves (FAO - INADES, 1976, 30 p.)
close this folderSome practical applications
View the documentThe plant needs air and light
View the documentThe plant needs water
View the documentThe plant needs its leaves

The plant needs air and light

If a plant is not in the light, it does not grow well.
Light does not come through the leaves of a dense mango tree, and almost nothing grows under it.
Grass needs light to grow.

Plants get most good from air and light:

· if you pull out weeds;

· if you prune trees such as coffee, cocoa.

· if you grow crops on fairly high ridges, as with groundnuts, cotton, salad plants.

· if you make stems climb on sticks or branches, for instance, cowpeas, tomatoes, yams.

Weeds and cotton

With good air circulation, there is less disease.
Well ventilated plants resist disease better.


The plant needs water

When there is not enough rain, the roots cannot find water, the leaves wilt, the plant grows badly.
If there is a great lack of water, the harvest is very poor.
The plant feeds badly.
It does not produce many fruits or seeds.
It may die.

You understand now why you have to give the plant water.
When there is enough water, the plant grows well; it produces plenty of seeds or fruits.

The plant which has water and the plant which does not have enough water

Young plants do not have many roots.
They cannot seek out water that lies very deep.
They wilt quickly if they are left in the sun.
Seedlings must be protected by covering them, for instance, with branches.
Seedlings must be well watered.

Branche and seedlings

The plant needs its leaves

If a plant has many big leaves, the harvest will be good.
If a plant has few, small leaves, the harvest will be less good.
Plants sown at the best density (see Booklet No. 1, page 26) will have the best leaves.
The roots will find enough food, and the leaves will change this food into organic matter, and the harvest will be good.
When plants of cotton or maize are too close together, the surplus plants are removed.

· Some insects eat leaves and buds.

Young leaves are eaten first, because they are not hard.
When the insects are born, the plants should already be strong.
The leaves, being harder, will be less attacked.
Plants sown at the right time will be strong when the insects appear.

Leaf eaten by insects

· Insects and diseases can be destroyed.

You should pull out diseased plants.
Let them dry.
Burn them.
Insects and diseases are killed by fire.
Certain seeds produce strong plants.
These strong plants resist diseases and insects better
Sow seeds which resist diseases and insects.
To kill insects or to prevent diseases, pesticides can be used.
These pesticides are poisons.
You cover the leaves with them and the insects are killed.
Often you need a sprayer, so that the pesticide covers the whole plant:

These pesticides can be dangerous to men and animals. You have to be very careful.

You must use exactly the quantity written on the containers, no more and no less.

· Animals also eat leaves.

Leaves and plants must also be protected against animals, such as goats, cows, agoutis, monkeys.

Put fences round the fields, keep a watch on cows and goats; put them in a paddock.