Natural Weed control in Coconut-Cocoa

We are located in West Godavari District of Andhra Pradesh.

We have 7 acres of coconut plantation with Cocoa as intercrop.We don’t till the land and apply farm yard manure and neem cake every year along with minimal does of chemical fertilizers. Yields are good and improving year after year.

We are having problem in controlling the weeds naturally and finally ending up in using weedicides.

We are trying to use the farm waste like coconut leaves and cocoa leaves as mulch to some extent.But still not enough to control the weeds completely.

Last year we introduced few male sheep (lambs) and they grew up really healthy and quickly enjoying all the grass around but soon they started eating the cocoa flowers and finally have to sell them.Got a good price though.

Experts suggest a best natural way to tackle this problem, if sheep were not touching cocoa flowers it is the best and profitable approach I guess.Is there way out?

You can grow horse gram (Ulavalu) or Velvet beans to control weeds.
You can also grow some legume crop as another ibter crop for fodder for animals as well as mulch.

As we are not tilling the land for 3-4 years, not sure what will be the germination % of the seeds you suggested.

Dear haridevarapalli,

Do you keep records of the output from the coconut and cocoa trees?  Have you noticed any reduction in the production of the coconut and cocoa? If not, there is no need to worry.  You have to worry only if there is any reduction in produce.

Padmanabhan Ganesan

Basically we would like to draw your attention that similar conditions exist in Saudi Arabia/Gaza/Israel etc yet they are able to grow plants and export its produce to many countries worldwide.

Their methods is an key to saving water ,weed control etc. and this has been implemented in one big farm in N.India also.

This process is called Mulching using Mulch mats for each tree.I had done this for Kinnows plants in Haryana whose produce is being exported directly to USA -Many in India do not even know what is Kinnows fruits which is like oranges but are not oranges.

We used specially treated woven mats with special methods of laying on the ground around trees so that drip irrigation pipe passes beneath the mats.What happens is that the drip irrigation is operated once a day only.The moisture at roots is preserved and drawn by trees only when necessary.Retention of moisture keeps the ground live and fertilisers (if used ) will also percolate to the roots.

Specific advantages are:1.Water conservation.
2. Fertilisers evaporation is prevented due to this mat as cover.
3.No parasite nematodes(white powder like marks on trees/leaves) can grab all the foods of the trees from roots.Trees stay healthy and the mats can be reused for two seasons- roughly two years.
4.Air exchange to roots will help in faster growth- not possible when films are used.
5.Due to no sunlight appearing below the mats used, no weeds grow-this is the key to weed control also rather than putting any waste etc as it waste when getting dried/wettened on drip irrigation gives rise to nematode worms which an cause damages to roots of the trees and damage the produce of trees.This is an very dangerous worms which attack a plant at its root levels.

We do not advise use of plastic films as it is being banned by govts (plastic bags ban) , also it cannot withstand windy conditions on coasts and flyaway to be eaten by goats etc.



Dear haridevarapalli,

While thinking on how to resolve your problem, a simple idea came to my mind.

You can have the sheep tied to a Coconut Tree and allowe it roam only up to the point where it cannot touch the cocoa tree.  Once the grasses have been eaten in one particular area, you can move the sheep to the next place.  This will solve the problem.

You can control the grasses as well as make money through the sheeps.

Padmanabhan Ganesan

Thanks Padmanabhan Ganesan for your recommendations.

Coconut and cocoa co exists and it will not be possible.(Attaching the picture)

The best way to control weeds naturally is mulching.But mulching from an external sources like mats,sheets is not economically viable I guess.As Cocoa grows we will have more shade as well as organic material to mulch.

We don’t harvest coconut ourself,we lease it annually. But rates have gone up from Rs300/tree in 2008 to Rs 600 this year.For Cocoa this is the first year(3rd yr after plantation) and yield is 8 bags in 7 acres.

One more picture

The photos show weed free ground … even if there may be some weeds near the base of the trees, it looks manageable … Where exactly is the weed problem???  :slight_smile: :smiley:  ;D

Dear haridevarapalli,

What is the distance between the Coconut Trees and the Cocoa Plants?  This will help to understand better.

The Picture does not give the full idea.

Padmanabhan Ganesan

Hi Shaji,

Its weed free because we are using chemical weedicide.But need a natural solution for weed control.

Go with Velvet beans or Horse gram for good live mulching for your crops.