Weed in a field of crops is a real hazard that can decrease the yield of food, nay all crops. Crop field's weed competes with crops for light, nutrients and water thereby resulting yield loss of field crops by up to 80-90 per cent in worst cases. On May 12, 2018, experts at the 6th conference of Weed Science Society of Bangladesh (WSSB) held at Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) in Gazipur said that provided proper weed management is put in place, yields of food crops in the country can potentially be increased by up to 22 per cent.
Improper weeding in Bangladesh causes yield loss that range anywhere between 40 to 50 per cent in rice, 24 to 58 per cent in wheat, almost 49 per cent in maize, 43 per cent in potato, 20 per cent in sugarcane, 75-80 per cent in jute, nine per cent in tea and 25 to 60 per cent in other crops. The Bangladeshi farmers in current practice usually do weeding by hand, hoe, mechanical weeding-hook and chemical weeding with herbicide. Hand weeding in field crops is costly. The practice needs money and is time-consuming. Mechanical weed control is not very popular due to its unavailability and effectiveness. In case of hand weeding, depending on crops, it needs Tk 10,000 to 18,000 per hectare.
The farmers are now more interested in chemical weed control with herbicide. The herbicide adoption is increasing day by day due to its quick effectiveness and low cost. But improper herbicide application may cause environmental hazards and may disturb field ecosystem.
In the WSSB 6th conference, about 19 scientific papers from different research organisations were presented. From the research papers it was observed that crop yield can be increased significantly if proper weed management is done through integrated approach. So now the time is ripe for developing innovative approaches, and economic and eco-friendly weed management technologies to address challenges ahead for sustainable agriculture and other social benefits.
The experts opined that in future, emphasis should be given on mechanical and biological weed control. Researchers concluded that low cost weed control measure should be adopted to increase economic gains from crops field. However, herbicide should be applied in proper time and dosage and advanced level research should be carried out about the impact of different groups of herbicide in crop-soil system. At the present stage, in this agricultural land-scarce country, a research programme needs to be undertaken for developing eco-friendly and sustainable weed management practices that will impact total food production and sustainable development goals.
Sarwar Md. Saifullah Khaled is a retired Professor of Economics, BCS General Education Cadre.
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