• Ecophyto
  • Logo-Cirad
  • RITA
  • Logo-CA



Introduction of sorghum and maize strips in a market garden plot in Martinique to control the aphids Aphis gossypii


  • Auxiliaries welcomed: ladybirds, lacewings, hoverflies, spiders, bedbugs and parasitoid micro-Hymenoptera. There is more abundance and diversity in sorghum than in maize.
  • Food resources provided: large amount of pollen.
  • Secondary prey provided: different species of aphids specific to grasses and caterpillars present in sorghum grains.
  • Precautions: do not plant sorghum or maize near grass crops.
  • Method of planting: in strips 10 m long by 1 m wide with 3 rows. Each plant is spaced 25 cm apart. Or in the form of clumps of a few plants.
  • Installation: work the ground beforehand. Sow sorghum seeds directly in the ground, 1 or 2 cm deep. Or sow it in the nursery to better control germination and avoid the consumption of seeds by birds, then transplant the young plants in the ground. This is done very easily provided you water the first few days after transplanting. Maize should preferably be sown in the open field because it is difficult to transplant (the primary root must not break during transplanting). Bring, after planting, sorghum stalks with leaves already attacked by aphids, put these stalks against the plants in the strip to allow the aphids to colonize these plants. The faster the secondary prey arrive, the faster the auxiliaries settle. This can also be done in the middle of the cycle if there are too few aphids in the area.
  • Needs: sorghum is very hardy, semi-perennial and resistant to water stress. Maize is demanding in water (at least 450 to 600 mm of water during cultivation) and it needs aerated and well-drained soil. It is greedy in fertilizing elements and in particular nitrogen. It reacts very well to organic manure.
  • Weeding: one month after planting the sorghum, do a first weeding with a manual tool (hoe or weeder). The following passages are made according to the presence of weeds.
  • Duration of establishment: sorghum can be maintained in place over several cycles of vegetation thanks to the formation of shoots at the base of the plant. A first pruning, 5 cm above the base of the plant, can be carried out after harvesting the panicles. This regenerates the tape. Regrowth then appears at the base of the plant. It is best to regenerate the tape in two stages, cutting first the first half, then the second when the first part has grown back well.
  • „Agronomic advantages: the strips act as a windbreak for low crops and limit erosion thanks to their deep roots, the stems and leaves can be used for mulching, crushing the plant makes it possible to obtain fertilizer green and cut stems can be used to make compost.
  • Cost of installation and maintenance: it is low and mainly concerns labour. The time devoted to the implementation and management of this device over the course of a year does not exceed 10 hours of work per tape. The cost of installation is estimated at around €30 per strip and the cost of maintenance (two weedings and one cut of the stems) does not exceed €20 per strip for one cycle. It is possible to carry out 3 cycles during a year, the maximum cost of a strip of sorghum over a year is then 90 €.



Other examples

Introduction of isolated dill and coriander plants on the farm (reception of parasitoid micro-Hymenoptera, hoverflies, lacewings and ladybugs),
beds of milkweeds ( Asclepia curassavica ) (home to yellow aphids Aphis nerii which are prey of ladybugs, hoverflies and parasitoid wasps), clumps or isolated plants of marigolds and marigolds ( Tagetes spp.) (home to predatory bugs Orius ). And also the gliricidia ( Gliricidia sepium ), the pigeon pea ( Cajanus cajan ), the basil ( Ocimum basilicum ), the sunflower ( Helianthus annuus ), the rattlesnakes ( Crotalaria sp.) for their contributions of secondary prey, pollen and nectar, etc.


Last change : 07/07/22