Unique large-scale project Launched in Maharashtra to save cotton crops

By Sarkaritel June 16, 2020 11:30

Mass pheromone traps save cotton crops from pest damage

by Nitin Jugran Bahuguna

Jalna District, Maharashtra [India], June 1: Tulsiram Nagve, 42, of Wanadgaon village is one of thousands of cotton farmers in Jalna district of Maharashtra to have been adversely affected by severe attacks of pink bollworm (PBW) on their crops in the past two years, leading to extensive damage and loss of income.

“I have been cultivating cotton on five acres, but due to severe PBW infestation in the last two years I lost between four-five quintals of cotton per acre,” he laments.

Similarly, farmer Kishore Shivaji Nagve, 29, of the same village reported a damage of between 30-40 per cent of his total output in the past two years due to PBW attacks on his cotton crops. “Pest attacks on our cotton crops have been very severe of late and farmers have incurred huge losses. I lost 15 quintals of cotton last year and five quintals the year before,” he says.

To counter the growing menace of PBW infestation which has severely hampered cotton cultivation in the state, an innovative project, the first of its kind, was recently launched on a large-scale by Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK), Jalna, a farm science centre of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), with support from WWF – India. They developed a trap design to understand the impact of PBW attacks and in a pilot demonstration a total of 7,500 pheromone traps were installed at a density of ten traps per acre in 750 acres of cotton area in Wanadgaon village. The objective was to ascertain the number of PBW moths trapped followed by management recommendations including reduction in spray applications.

KVK provided the pheromone traps to farmers in the village. Following instructions, Tulsiram setthetraps at a height of one foot above the cotton sapling, using ten traps per acre or four traps in one row. “I sowed my saplings late last year and after a month and a half, I installed the traps. Nearly 40 bollworm moths got trapped and I buried the dead moths underground,” he recounts.

Prior to using the traps, Tulsiram would have to apply pesticide sprays at least six times to protect his saplings, but now he only had to resort to sprays two times.“When I did my first picking, I noticed there was no damage to my crops and I collected seven quintals. I expect at least seven more quintals in the next picking.”

An added bonus, he points out, is the saving he has made from using less sprays. “I saved Rs 6,000 as a result of reduced pesticide spraying on my fields.”

Describing the venture as the first large-scale one of its kind in the country, KVK scientist Ajay Mitkri says after the installation of 7,500 traps in Wanadgaon village, the damage to crops went down dramatically to just between five-six per cent. “After this success, 250000 (2 lakh, 50 thousand) pheromone traps were purchased by farmers in 600 villages in the district,” he states. “A single trap costs Rs 50 and the Maharashtra government gives some subsidy.”

Farmer Kishore has learned an important lesson from the project. “During cotton picking time, the life cycle of PBW increases fourfold and if we delay in our picking the PBW’s life cycle increases. I did not know this and delayed my picking for the past two years as a result of which there was severe bollworm infestation in my crops,” he discloses.

“But last year, I did two timely pickings and collected 27 quintals of cotton. There was no damage to my crops and I saved about Rs 5,000 by reducing pesticide spray applications on my five-acre field devoted to cotton cultivation.”

Earlier, use of pheromone traps for mass trapping of insects and pests was rarely considered as a method of pest control. However, the success of this experiment has made KVK scientists realize that this method is ideal to control PBWs.

By Sarkaritel June 16, 2020 11:30

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Sarkaritel.com Interview with U P Singh (IAS), Secretary, Ministry of Jal Shakti & Drinking Water & Sanitation by Ameya Sathaye, Publisher & Editor-in-Chief, Sarkaritel.com