Green cover for crops
Every year, pest attack on crops leads to losses that amount to a staggering 240 billion and above. Farmers usually prefer synthetic pesticides because of their ease of handling, efficiency in eliminating pests, and the popular belief that they are economical in nature.
But the long-term costs of synthetic pesticides that include pesticide resistance of crops, pest resurgence, elimination of natural predators, and health and environment hazards have completely overshadowed the short-term gains.
By promoting practices like maximizing use of bio-pesticides and minimizing that of chemical pesticides, coupled with integrated pest management, TERI has helped farmers reduce their number of pesticide sprays from 20-25 to 6-7 in several crops at several villages of Haryana, Uttaranchal, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh.
Scientists at TERI work closely with farmers to help them adopt and promote bio-pesticides through the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) modules, and solve ecological and health problems posed by injudicious use of synthetic pesticides.
Practices for preventing pest damage in IPM include inspecting and monitoring crops for damage; using mechanical trapping devices, botanical pesticides, natural predators or parasites, insect-growth regulators, and mating disruption substances; and need-based and judicious use of chemical pesticides. IPM modules with bio-pesticides such as Trichoderma, Trichogramma, Psuedomonas, and neem-based pesticides as pest-control measures have been designed and demonstrated on various crops.
Integrated pest management, coupled with use of bio-pesticides, has not only helped in reducing pesticide use by 50-70%, but has also enhanced the quality of the produce, quantity of production, and income of the farmers. Farmers have reported obtaining 2-3 times higher price for their produce.
IPM, initiated with support from Monsanto, has helped farmers of five villages in the Shivalik foothills of Yamuna Nagar district of Haryana. In the state of Uttaranchal, vegetable crops like potato, cabbage, chilly, and beans have reaped the benefits of this change.
Currently, under the USAID-IPM-CRSP programme, IPM demonstrations are being carried out on vegetable crops like eggplant (brinjal), okra (lady's fingers), and tomato in five villages each at Kolar (Karnataka), Chittoor (Andhra Pradesh), and Meerut (Uttar Pradesh).
The practice is of particular importance to vegetable farmers, particularly smallholders, who confront a number of constraints in growing vegetables. Their production risks-primarily because of considerable production losses caused by pests-are estimated at approximately 30% of the total vegetable output.
TERI has identified practices that need modifications. Farmers generally use locally available varieties of pesticides and not their less-harmful advanced counterparts. Seed treatment is not done on a regular basis, and there is lack of soil treatment. Chemical pesticides are widely and injudiciously used. Most farmers are not aware of microbial bio-pesticides, pheromone traps, and yellow sticky traps, and use chemical pesticides or neem leaf extract. Straw mulching, too, is a common practice to avoid fruit contact to moist soil.
IPM measures, along with bio-pesticide use, need to be promoted on wider scale to do away with practices that increase reliance on pesticides, and thereby ensure better environment and food safety in the long run.
- Use of resistant/tolerant varieties
- Seed treatment with Trichoderma viride and Pseudomonas fluorescens
- Soil treatment with neem cake
- Seedlings treatment with Trichoderma viride and Pseudomonas fluorescens
- Pheromone traps for monitoring fruit bearers
- Yellow sticky traps for monitoring soft-bodied insects
- Bio-pesticides such as neem formulation, Bt formulation, Beauveria formulation, and NPV for Helicoverpa
- Staking of plants to avoid fruit rot
- Need-based use of chemical pesticides
- Knowledge dissemination on bio-pesticides
- Mulching and shoot clipping
- Roughing: Early uprooting of virus-infected plants from the field help in reduction and management of viral diseases
- Field scouting over the entire crop season to observe pest population in the experimental fields and determine the necessary IPM interventions
Benefits of bio-pesticide use in IPM
- 50-70% reduction in pesticide usage
- Better quality of produce
- Food safety
- Better price to farmers
- Enhanced income of farmers
- Environmental safety
Impact of IPM on a few crops
|Crop||Yield (kg/acre )|
|IPM practice||Farmers’ practice|
- To facilitate the process of transfer of knowledge to farmers to minimize number of pesticide sprays
- Evaluate the impact of technology package on farm productivity and farmers' income
- Create a knowledge base with growers to allow them to apply learnings independent of projects