ATNESA Weeding Workshop
Animal Traction Network for Eastern and Southern Africa

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The ATNESA 'Animal power for weed control' workshop, held in Tanga, Tanzania has let to the production of a resource book and guidelines.

Animal power for weed control: experiences and challenges
by T E Simalenga and R M Shetto
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to download this keynote paper prepared for ATNESA. This 9-page document is illustrated with photos and is in PDF format that can be printed or read on-line. 
(NB: this has a file size of 290 Kb and may a few minutes to download).

If you do not have Adobe Acrobat 4 which is needed to view and print this pdf file, you can download it free of charge from
Animal power for weed control: a technical review
by Piet Stevens

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to download this keynote paper prepared for the ATNESA weeding workshop. This 7-page document is illustrated and is in PDF format that can be printed or read on-line.
(NB: this has a file size of 170 Kb and may take two minutes to download).

Some guidelines on extension and training methods for animal-powered weeding
These guidelines were prepared by an ATNESA Resource Team (see below)


For the successful extension of animal powered weeding technology to farmers, its introduction must be targeted at specific areas where it is most likely to be adopted. Untargeted nationwide schemes are not recommended. To do this, animals and equipment must be readily available, farmers should feel a need for it, credit facilities should be available and there must be experienced and sufficient extension staff to work with farmers and transfer the technology. In addition, they must be familiar in using draft animals and weeding equipment so they are confident in demonstrating and working with farmers.


These guidelines have been formed to assist those considering introducing draft animal weeding into a particular region or part of their country. The presented information is drawn from the experiences of the workshop participants, many of whom have initiated draft animal schemes involving animal powered weeding. The guidelines should not be considered the definitive extension method for the introduction of weeding using animal power, but rather should be used as an aid to formulating national extension policy.

Many countries have embarked on a programme of introducing draft animal technology - including weeding as a national programme which is uniform across the whole country. Almost all of these programmes have failed. This was largely because they were broad-based national programmes where extension agents were not motivated, nor received training or gained experience with draft animal technology. Where draft animal technology has been successful, extension staff have been well motivated and trained (eg in Tanzania include the Draft Animal Project - Korogwe and Mbeya Oxenisation Project). As will be described later, animal powered weeding programmes should be targeted at areas where adoption is likely to be high and staff can be well trained and motivated.

Before continuing further, it is perhaps useful to define what is meant by the terms Training and Extension. In these guidelines, Training is the transfer of knowledge or skills in artificial learning environment, whereas Extension is the transfer of knowledge and skills in the farmers own environments. Because the farmers environments are many and varied, the extension methodology will have to be adjusted accordingly.


Preconditions for the introduction of animal powered weeding

To increase the likelihood of the successful introduction of animal powered weeding technology, the following preconditions should be met:

  • farmers feel there to be a need for improved weeding methods and possibly an awareness of the draft animal weeding technology;
  • farmers have used some draft animal equipment for a period of time eg 3 years;
  • field should be free of hazards such as rocks and tree stumps;
  • crops are normally planted as monocrops and usually in lines;
  • potential draft animals and weeding equipment is available;
  • experienced extension staff used to working with animal powered weeders are available to transfer the technology;
  • finance and credit facilities are available;
  • farmers are motivated and have a market orientated approach to production.

In many cases, the possible target area will not be able to meet all of these criteria. Therefore one will have to plan how the shortcomings will be overcome whether it be the supply of equipment or changes to the present agronomic practices.

Also it is important to stress that Extension and Training alone cannot successfully introduce animal weeding technology but it should be introduced in conjunction/cooperation with the relevant institutions and organisations working in the target area - ie have an integrated approach to the farmers problems of which animal powered weeding technology will be a solution to some of them.


The introduction of animal powered weeding technology

The broad methodology of exposing and making available the draft weeding technology to as many farmers as possible should be achieved by the ensuing:

  • exposing as many farmers as possible to the technology by means of field days, agricultural shows, demonstrations etc. and use of the media;
  • identifying early adopters (Pioneers), either individual farmers, farmer groups or others such as women groups. It is stressed that these people should be cooperative as well as being competent and able to influence others in their community - men, women and young people. Groups are considered to be more receptive than individuals considering the possible risks involved.

Once the early adopters have been identified: the early adopters should be trained in technical and communication skills so that they themselves are fully conversant with the weeding technology and adequately prepared to transfer information and skills to others. Demonstrations should be arranged for these early adopters as well as the rest of the community; study traditional learning and teaching patterns and methods so that they can be incorporated into the extension work as they will be familiar to local people; form groups (with the individual farmers) and train group leaders (who should be chosen by the group members); encourage them by means of competitions and rewarding good achievements with technology orientated prizes; listen to their difficulties to help identify problem areas, e.g. marketing, finance.


Decisive technical components of animal drawn weeders

If draft animal weeding is to be successfully used, then ensuing are concluded to be list of requirements for the farmers, their fields, their animals and equipment. Initially this will be for the early adopters, but also for later adopters as well. These requirements are:

  • removing field hazards (rocks and tree stumps);
  • to promote contour tillage to minimise erosion danger;
  • having a fine tilth and level seedbed for better weed control;
  • to coax farmers to plant in rows with uniform spacing to allow weeders to pass and work;
  • to make available the correct sized yokes for oxen and/or swingle-trees & harnesses for donkeys;
  • to use muzzles to prevent crop damage by working animals browsing within or en route to the field;
  • to need well-trained animals and operators;
  • using properly selected and appropriate weeding equipment for the area;
  • weeding at regular intervals/correct time with correctly adjusted implements.

Specific guidelines for extension and training on draft animal weeding

The statements are directed at the extension agency(s) promoting draft animal weeding technology. Broad guidelines are to:

  • identify and motivate staff by creating conducive working conditions, ie they are happy and confident in their work and very capable when working with draft animals and weeding equipment;
  • identify training needs and conduct in service training;
  • encourage farmer participation and cooperation at all levels by developing farmers groups, encouraging farmer to farmer exchange and farmer/extension staff exchange;
  • define clearly all extension roles and responsibilities of those involved;
  • identify extension packages in liaison with research stations and farmers bearing in mind gender issues;
  • collect and review existing hand-outs an weeding technology;
  • establish on-going self evaluation procedures;
  • continue the planning, review and supervision of extension activities with regular evaluation.

An example of integrating training and extension for animal weeding technology




Make weeders and weeding technology available either through a project, NGO or local manufacturer(s) or dealer(s)

Train extension staff on weeding technology including

  • animal training

  • field layout
  • adjusting and using equipment
  • Field/farmer days
  • Meetings and discussions
  • Agricultural shows and demonstrations

Publicity and awareness

Train extension staff to run demonstrations and meetings

  • Study tours
  • Demonstrations
  • Field/farmer days
  • Meetings and discussions

Identify early adopters

Identify and train weeding pioneers and early adopters

Involve farmers in identifying early adopters

Use early adopters

Training in communication skills, organize group and discussions, and help train early adopters and their animals

  • Guide early adopters
  • Encourage early adopters to train others
  • Organize farmer visits
  • Spreading weeding technology to the farming majority

    Train staff to run demonstrations, competitions and farmer days


    • Field demonstrations

    • Competitions

    • Agricultural shows 

    • Field days.

    The ATNESA resource persons who contributed to the drafting and editing of these guidelines included Fischer, B Kanu, M Massunga, F Miller, J Olupot, P Starkey, J Steel and T Yoba

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