Use of wood ash on and around vegetable crops

Climate change will lead to high incidence of pest outbreaks, which will very likely add substantially to the number of people threatened by extreme climatic events such as drought and famine, especially for those depending on subsistence farming (those who cannot afford to buy food from the world market). Fruit wood, from which wood ash is produced has a lot of benefits domestically in most Ghanaian homes. It is used to wash and clean utensils as well as clothes in many parts of Ghana. However, research has shown that it could be used as a Climate change adaptive measure in agriculture to protect food crops from harmful pest attacks. It is now a common practice to sprinkle wood as on vegetable crops, especially those growing in kitchen gardens and to spread it around plants to ward off pests and enhance the nutrient status of the soil. In application, a thick layer of ash is spread on the soil around plants and it is also sprinkled on foliage to protect it against a variety of pests.  

The wild Remedy that interfered with my “why”

Wood ash mainly causes abrasion of epicuticular waxes and thus exposing pests to death through desiccation. Alongside, wood ashes interferes in the chemical signals emanating from the host plants thus obstructing the initial host location by pests. The treated foliage further becomes unpalatable for foliage feeders like cutworms, caterpillars and grasshoppers. Wood ash sprinkled lightly around susceptible plants will irritate slugs’ moist bodies and repel them. The repellent effect will disappear after rain or during irrigation, the ashes dissolve. It is not good for applications on acid loving plants such as blueberries, strawberries and rhododendrons. In Ghana, most garden plants are protected with this remedy such as garden eggs, turkey berries, spinach (“kontomire “ ) and other crops like maize to fight pests. Though the wood ash is poisonous to pests, I believe it would not affect the crops because wood ashes is a source of phosphorous for plant; however it cracks and repels pests.

The discovered routine in the long run

If used judiciously, wood ash can be used to repel insects, slugs and snails because it draws water from invertebrates’ bodies. With the application of wood ash on plants , sprinkle ash around the base of plants to discourage surface feeding pests.Wood ash have a long tradition of use as a garden pest repellent, in both dry and liquid form. To deter destructive leaf-eating pests such as the cucumber beetle; there are two things involved.

Firstly; for the average user in the garden, one cup of wood ashes and one cup of hydrated lime are added to two gallons water and mixed together. Spray this liquid onto the tops and bottoms of infested foliage consistently within stipulated time frames.

Secondly, for crawling pests such as snails, in as much as to possibly make crops sustained, with a ring shape sprinkling of wood ashes around infested or vulnerable plants, crawling pests will be driven away for a conducive crops protection. Its powdery nature requires new wood ash to affected plants after rain or heavy winds.

Conserve wood ash to avoid regrets

Before even thinking about what to do with all your excess wood ash, you have to think about where you will store it. You won’t use your wood ash all at once, so it’s best if you have a metal container that’s covered and located few feet away from anything combustible.  This is because even if the ashes appear cold and harmless, there may be buried live embers that could remain that way for days or weeks. Once you have your wood ash stored in a secure place, you now know its effective use as pesticides repellent without even adding chemicals.

With its social impact, the wood ash will be very beneficial to substinence farming. Awareness creation and education on how to use and store the wood ash is critical. I believe that with the necessary resources, I can train many talented young people especially women within the society to take up this kind of crop protection in our farming setup in Ghana. In Ghana, women are mostly used for farming, as such thus training these ladies would be strategic to spread their new way of farming method. This will be a contribution to food security as many subsequent farmers can increase their farm yields and cater well for their households. This will also generate employment and create more job opportunities for the youth to earn for a living by storing ashes in containers and sell to farmers.

I am passionate about my project because I believe in how far I have come from little beginnings and have the zeal to grow and maximise whatever I am doing currently. If I am selected to join the IUPAC next generation program; I intend to also share my successes with other participants and also learn from what they are doing in their home countries and also maximise the societal impact Cocobenz already creates through the changing of lives in my local community.  

Bender Owusu Bediako Antwi, Ghana

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