7. Making aquatic weeds useful: some perspectives for developing countries.
Report of BOSTID, Nat. Academy of Sciences, Washington, D.C., 1984, 5th
Edition, ISBN 76-53285, 165 p.
This report examines methods for controlling aquatic weeds and using them to best advantage, especially those methods that show promise for less-developed countries. It emphasizes techniques for converting weeds for feed, food, fertilizer, and energy production. It examines, for example, biological control techniques in which herbivorous tropical animals (fish, waterfowl, rodents, and other mammals) convert the troublesome plants directly to meat.
Aquatic weeds have always existed, but in recent decades their effects have been magnified by man's more intensive use of natural water resources.
These plants, among the most prolific on earth, grow luxuriantly in the tropics, weigh hundreds of tons per hectare, and can be a serious hindrance to a nation's development efforts. Eradication of the weeds has proved impossible, and even reasonable control is difficult. Turning these weeds to productive use would be desirable, but only limited research has so far been carried out.
This is a global problem, but it is particularly severe in tropical nations where warm water and increasing numbers of dams and irrigation projects foster aquatic plant growth. Furthermore, the problem is worsened by increasing enrichment of natural waters by fertilizer runoff and by nutrients from human and agricultural wastes.
Aquatic weeds constitute a free crop of great potential value - a highly productive crop that requires no tillage, fertilizer, seed, or cultivation. Aquatic plants have potential for exploitation as animal feed, human food, soil additives, fuel production, and wastewater treatment.
The advantage of weed utilization over chemical and many biological weed controls (e.g., insects and pathogens) is the production of valuable end products: meat, eggs, fish, edible vegetation, fertilizer, animal feed, energy, paper pulp.
The techniques described in this report have been selected for their applicability in less-developed countries, many are also relevant to industrialized countries. Both types of country face a future in which food production will need to depend more and more on the effective management of natural systems, such as waterways.
Each topic is presented in a separate chapter arranged in the following order:
- Description of the technique and of its advantages
Photographs are provided to give nonspecialist readers who scan the report a sense of its contents; a summary of each chapter is given and, in each chapter, the early paragraphs are nontechnical and discuss the technique and its apparent advantages.
In most chapters the later paragraphs contain more technical information of the kind needed by researchers and technical personnel to decide on the chapter's relevance to their country's specific situation and needs.
In this way, it is hoped that the report can introduce decision makers to aquatic weed utilization, while at the same time, providing their technical advisors with the details they need.
This report confines itself to a technical overview, leaving to the reader the task of weighing the technical prescriptions in light of his country's resources and capabilities.
Reading lists and a list of contacts are given so that readers may explore for themselves the relevance and adaptability of the techniques to their specific location.
This report explores an alternative:the conversion of aquatic weeds to food, fertilizer, paper and fiber, and energy.
1276 92 - 14/37
Europe, Hungary, study, field trials, ecological approach, medicinal plants, ecosystems, plant geography, plant phenology, genetic diversity, agrotechnical needs, plant establishment
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