The role of service plants in banana plantations of the West Indies
A team from CIRAD suggests adopting an approach based on analysing the functional traits of service plants in banana-based systems in the West Indies would help farmers choose the most appropriate species and decide at what point in the crop cycle these plants must be used. Service plants offer a range of advantages for agro-systems. They can control weeds, regulate pests and diseases and improve soil structural condition and fertility. The research tested a number of plant combinations in Caribbean banana agro-ecosystems. For instance, plants that do not harbour the nematodes that attack banana plants were identified. If planted during fallow periods, they clean the soil and avoid the need for nematicides after replanting of the crop.
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