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Bund cropping on paddy fields can check pests

Agriculture Department officials conducting an awareness campaign on ways to control Fall Armyworm at a maize field at M. Kannanur in Pullampadi taluk in Tiruchi district.

The Agriculture Department is encouraging farmers of the district to go in for ‘bund cropping’ on samba paddy fields as an effective method to control pests.

The method is being promoted as an integrated pest management approach to control pests such as paddy leaf roller and steam borer among others. Under the initiative farmers are encouraged to raise pulses such as cowpea and black gram, gingelly, marigold or sunflower on the bunds so that they attract insects such as lady bird beetle which eat eggs of the pests. Besides, farmers can also get some additional income through the crops raised on the bund.

In an attempt to encourage farmers take to the practice, the department is providing three kg of seeds of pulse varieties for a hectare at 50% subsidy under the National Food Security Mission – Pulses, according to K. Balraj, Joint Director of Agriculture, Tiruchi. This year the seeds are to be distributed to cover about 400 hectares in the district.

Agriculture Department officials also point out that the brightly coloured flowers plants on the bund attract insects and thereby protect the main crop. The crops on the bund grow with the help of the nutrients given to the main crop in the field and do not require much attention from farmers. This also controls growth of unnecessary weeds on the fields as the nutrients are absorbed by the crops on the bund. Farmers can get a yield of about 50 kg of pulses an acre by raising them on the bunds, Mr. Balraj said.

The Agriculture Department has also intensified its awareness campaign to sensitise farmers of the district on ways to control Fall Armyworm ( Spodoptera frugiperda), an invasive pest, which is spreading in maize fields in Tiruchi district.

The pest attack was recently reported in Karnataka, Telangana and in Karur district in Tamil Nadu and the Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR) had sounded an alert. The pest could devastate the crop and also spread to other crops.

Maize is raised on about 20,000 hectares in rainfed areas in Thuraiyur, Uppilliyapuram, Pullampadi and Thathaiyengarpet blocks. The Fall Armyworm attack is said to be extensive in crops which are 15-25 days old.

A team of technical experts from Tamil Nadu Agricultural University institutions and Krishi Vigyan Kendras and Agriculture Department officials led by Mr. Balraj conducted a campaign at M. Kannanur in Pullampadi block on Friday. Similar campaigns are being held in the affected areas. Handbills detailing ways to control the spread of the pest is also being distributed.


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