Decades of continuous slash-and-bum cultivation and other inappropriate agricultural practices, especially in upland hilly to slightly rolling farms, have resulted in rapid land degradation due to soil erosion. Consequently, hundreds of thousand hectares of formerly productive famlands have become barren and unproductive. These farmlands are usually abandoned or left in fallow. Two common weed species -- cogon (Imperata cylindrica) and talahib (Saccharun. spontaneum) - tend to dominate these abandoned or fallow areas. These two weed species are considered by farmers to be indicators of poor soil fertility - hence, poor farm productivity.
Four techniques found effective in controlling cogon and talahib are the following: hapi-hapi, an indigenous technology from the Visayan region; roll-over method; slash-mulch-plant method; and, planting of fast-growing multipurpose nibogen-fixing trees.
Hapi is a Cebuano term which means "to press or to crush. It has been loosely translated into hapi-hapi to mean to crush standing cogon by using a piece of wood. The hapi-hapi technology is designed to disturb and slow down the growth of cogon while a mantle of kudzu (Pueraria phaseoloides) is established and allowed to grow nominally and shade out the cogon.
Simple Steps and Guidelines for the Hapi-hapi
Peasant throw seeds
1. Broadcast kudzu (Puerana) pods or seeds over the cogonal area. About 2-3 kgs of seeds or 5-10 cans of pods are needed per hectare.
2. Prepare a plank measuring 2 meters long, 10 cm wide and 5 cm thick. Locally available materials -such as coconut trunk or any straight and round pole - can be used.
3. The kudzu plants usually start twining over the cogon six months after broadcasting/seeding.
At this stage the first stage hapi-hapi is done using the wooden plank. This is carried and dragged over the standing cogon forcing it to lodge (hap/). At the same time, step on top of the plank from end to end to exert more weight which will crush the vegetation.
4. Perform the hapi-hapi, preferably in the morning or late afternoon. The first hapi-hapi disturbs and slows down the growth of cogon so the kudzu can grow faster and creep over the cogon This retards the regrowth of cogon; whereas, if you cut the cogon with a sharp sharp the regrowth is much faster. By employing hapi-hapi, the creeping kudzu has a competitive advantage over cogon, hence better growths
5. Do the hapi-hapi at least twice. It is highly recommended to do the second hapi-hapi when the cogon has started to rise again and when the kudzu is on its peak of vegetative growth (usually in the months of May-June after they have produced seeds).
6. Four to five days are required to practice hapi-hapi on a 1hectare farm.
7. Broadcasting kudzu pods/seeds followed by hapi-hapi in cogonal areas restores soil fertility thus, improves the growth and yield of coconut trees and other plants with economic values.
Peasant thanking God
Establishment of Kudzu in Slightly Rolling to Hilly Cogonal Areas
1. The farmer may cultivate a portion (0.5 sq m) randomly scattered throughout his parcel and drill the seeds.
2. Farmer may broadcast kudzu pods or seeds first then burn the area. This will also hasten kudzu establishment followed by hapi-hapi when cogon and kudzu are vigorously growing.
3. Stony areas (with big rocks) - Hapi-hapi would be difficult but adjusting the length of the wooden plank would solve the problem. However, broadcasting kudzu on this kind of land would still suppress cogon; but, it takes time
Use of Other Creeping Vines/Legumes
Farmer may try other creeping vines/legumes that thrive in the locality or have competitive ability with cogon.
Use of Leguminous Tree Species and Other. High value or Shade-tolerant Crops in Between Coconuts
This can be done after two years when kudzu has completely shaded out the cogon. Establish your crop following the contour.
ROLL OVER METHOD
With the use of this method, a slopy cogonal-talahib area with growth density ranging from 60100 clusters/sq. R. (at 5-20 strands per cluster) can have a decreased reemergence from 8040 percent. Runners underneath the soil decay one month after the rolling activity. Rolled over grasses decompose or dry up to as much as 90 percent in a month's time It takes more than six months for the regrowth to reach population density to as much as it was before. Rolling-over can be used to clear an area for planting or for other purposes.
Take a tree trunk heavy enough to press down the grass. With the force and weight of the body on one foot, roll the tree trunk towards the direction where the grasses are inclined.
Peasant with a bamboo stick
A bamboo about 6 inches in diameter and 6 feet long can also be used. Tie the bamboo with a rope 2 feet from both ends. Hold the rope with both hands. With the weight of the body at one foot, press the grasses to the ground. Lift the bamboo and press it again, repeating the procedure until the whole area to be rolled over has been thoroughly pressed.
Marginal lands with profuse cogon and talahib growth which are difficult to plow can still be used for beneficial crops like beans, cowpeas, eggplant, tomatoes and rootcrops. This method also prevents erosion due to the presence of the mulch.
1. Slash the cogon and talahib to the base and spread them as mulch over the cleared area.
2. Dig holes at distances the crops so require.
3. Remove grass roots or runners from the dug holes. 4. Plant the vegetable seeds or the seedlings.
PLANTING OF FAST-GROWING
The trees take about three years to grow before density of grasses is kept at a minimum for other plants to thrive. Plant tree species that can compete well with reemerging grasses previously cut prior to tree planting. Choose also fast - growing trees with high - shading capacity. Aside from controlling the growth of cogon and talahib, the trees also help regenerate the soil.
1. Locate the contour lines with the use of an A-frame.
2. Cut cogon/talahib along contour lines 1 meter wide.
3. Dig holes for seedlings and remove the runner or roots of the grasses from the dug holes.
4. Plant tree seedling at 1 meter distance or as desired.
5. During the first year, ring-weed trees to about 1 meter diameter to facilitate growth and minimize competition with regrowth of grasses.
Measuring and working