Plants and Soil Microbial response to Herbicides during Plantation establishment in Ghana

Project Team: Apetorgbor, M.M., Peprah, T., Mensah,J.K., Duah-Gyam fi, A. and Darko-Obiri, B.

Background

Several hectares of plantations are being established in Ghana to reforest degraded forest lands for the past two decades. During the initial establishments of these plantations, diff erent herbicides are used by farmers to selectively remove or kill non-economic plant species, which often compete with the tree saplings for light, water, space and nutrients. Th e continual use of these herbicides depletes populations of ecologically important soil micro-organisms and causes loss of soil fertility. Th e herbicides also alter soil properties, such as pH, which in turn inhibits essential microbial activity.

Other studies have shown that sprayed chemicals and non-fl uid herbicides not only killed off vegetation at the time of treatment, but the chemicals persist in the soil or vegetation for between one and two years or longer in the treated environment. Th ese non-biodegradable chemicals often enter the food chain and result in biomagnifi cations. Th e study therefore seeks to identify and evaluate the usage and effect of herbicides on the survival and growth performance of planted seedlings. Additionally, it assesses the e ffects of herbicides on soil micro-organisms and plant diversity under established plantations.