Even as farmers following intensive farming are struggling to battle bugs which are increasingly turning pesticide-resistant, farmer groups who have adopted organic cultivation say they have been successful in keeping the pests at bay by adopting sustainable and integrated pest management strategies. Rajesh Krishnan, a biotechnologist turned organic farmer and winner of this year’s Youth Icon award instituted by state government, for instance, has not sprayed even a drop of pesticide in his ten-acre paddy field at Thrissilery in Wayanad in the past four years.
Still, he has been able to curb the deadly trio of major rice pests the leaf roller (Cnaphalocrocis medinalis), stem borer (Scirpophaga incertulas)and earhead bug (Leptocorisa acuta) using organic formulations and local traditional knowledge.
The farmer collectives say pest management is a built-in process in the overall crop production in traditional and organic farming process rather than a pest-killing activity using chemicals. “Pests have been evolving to overcome targeted chemical pesticides as part of their survival strategy . In organic farming, the focus is on management of pests instead of elimination of pests. We have been able to manage pests very well for paddy and other crops without using chemical pesticides,” he said.
Rajesh Krishnan said that the leaf roller can be controlled by a simple mechanical method of sweeping the rice plants with branches of `Parakam’ tree which has rough leaves.
“When we sweep the plants using the tree branches in the morning, the caterpillar will be dislodged from the leaves and falls into the water which will be drained out immediately,” he said.
For repelling the earhead bug (Chazhi), ‘fish amino’ made using sardines which are fermented in a jaggery solution and sprayed after diluting it with water. Farmers in the state who have taken up `zero budget natural farming’ advocated by Subash Palekar are also of the view that pest management is not a big issue.
“Under our farming practices, which uses only natural inputs, a healthy ecosystem makes the plants stronger and enhances their selfdefence against pest attacks,” said CA Gopalakrishnan, state secretary of Palekar Prakrithi Karshaka Samithi.
He said that farmers have been effectively using natural pesticides like Neemastram (a decoction made out of cow urine, dung and neem leaf paste), Brahmastram (made out of fruits like custard apple, leaves of papaya, guava and pomegranate apart from neem leaves and cow urine) to manage various pests including borers, bugs and caterpillars.
source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / News> City News> Kozhikode News / TNN / November 06th, 2017