Monday, July 4, 2016

AGRO ECOLOGICAL ENGINEERING

Agro Ecological Engineering is also Bio Intensive Integrated Pest Management. It is emerging new pest management strategy. It is an improved version of Agro – Eco System Analysis (AESA). It involves habitat manipulation of both below and above ground level.


Below Ground Operations – Rhyzosphere EngineeringLiving Soil concept
Organic Farming techniques like Crop Rotation, Organic Fertilizers, Seed Treatment / Bio Priming (Treating with Pseudomonas and Trichoderma), Biofertilizers including VAM & AM – Biofertilizers (induces Phosphatic utilization – Fungus & root symbiosis) encourages the multiplication of beneficial organism and they naturally control the growth of harmful organisms.





Above Ground Operations – Multi Crop Concept

It involves many corps to grow in and around the field to get maximum biological activity. Growing right Border Crops according to the selected farm activity acts like an army to save the crop. Example is growing Bhendi (Okra / Lady’s Finger) in the border of Paddy fields acts as yellow sticky trap. As the bright yellow flowers attract harmful insects provided them food (pollen and nectar) and shelter and protect the food crops from the harmful pests. Some of the attractant flowering plants are Marigold, Gingelly (Sesame), and Sunflower. Some trap crops are Mustard and Castor. Occimum spp plants are repellent crops including Tulsi (Hence it is known as mosquito repellent plant).

When habitat manipulation is done so as to encourage naturally farm friendly organisms, the beneficial organisms live in the flowers and protect the main crop from intensive sunshine and cold winds as it acts as barriers. When such crop situation prevails, it is found that the populations of farm friendly organisms like Bracon and Trichogramma (Parasitoids), Spiders and Reduviid Bug (Predators), Pseudomons spp and Trichoderma spp (Bio pesticides). Entomopathogenic fungicontacts the cuticle, forms appresoria, penetrates into the insect, proliferates, produces toxins and ultimately kills the insect. The proper selection of strains kills specific host range without disturbing non-target insects.  Entomopathogenic nematodes (EPNs) are lethal pathogens of wide variety of insects. Biological control with the help of EPN is a very efficient organic insect control method. EPN are viable alternative to chemical pesticides. EPNs have a single freeliving stage, the infective juvenile (IJ), carries bacteria in its gut. EPN and bacteria are harmless to humans and other organisms. EPN are also used as a foliar spray to control sucking pests and other foliar insects.

Such organic farming practices when done is a systemic manner we are ensuring the uninterrupted WEB of LIFE (Food Web). Interdependency of one organism feeding on the other and the balance results in conserving the BIODIVERSITY. As a result of the lives conserved at micro level (from microbes, insects) and macro level (rodents, birds, trees) the mankind get the economic benefits. The same principle may be applied to the forest ecosystems. When the small animals and birds are provided opportunity to live and multiply, the wild life will be conserves. Mere killing of rodents may result in the fall of the hawk population (which fed on rodents). Spraying of pesticides reflect in the fertility of men and immunity of mankind (as mother’s mild is found to have pesticide residue)


Thursday, June 9, 2016

Fish Culture in Paddy Field

Karaikal is a small coastal enclave which was formerly part of French India. Together with the other former French territories of Pondicherry, Yanam, and Mahé, it forms the Union Territory of Puducherry. Karaikal is bounded on the North and South by Nagapattinam district of Tamil Nadu state, on the west by Tiruvarur district (also belonging to Tamil Nadu), and on the East by the Bay of Bengal. The enclave is located 140 km south of the city of Pondicherry, 158 km east of Trichy and is known for its rich cultural heritage. Forming part of the fertile Cauveri delta, the region is completely covered by the distributaries of Cauveri. Covered completely by a thick mantle of alluvium of variable thickness, the lie of the region is flat having a gentle slope towards the Bay of Bengal in the east. (Source: Wikipedia)
Mr. Chandra Kumar, aged 38 is an engineer, resigned his highly paid job to do Organic Agriculture in Andoor Village of Karaikal District, Puducherry Union Territory. He wanted to take up SOMETHING DIFFERENT in Organic Farming. A social media video on Fish Culture in Paddy field of Philippines made him sleepless and made him search more on this. After exploration on this he decided to venture his own model. He dug trench of two feet around his field and filled with canal water. He introduced fish fingerlings from the canal; it was a mixture of traditional breed. Also he preferred to plant tradition paddy variety, Mappillai Samba, a red rice variety which can withstand standing water and do not demand chemical fertilizers. It responds well to organic inputs and gives good yield.
“Coastal saline soil extends from the main sea coast to a few or even 50 km at places interior to the main land. The ground water table under these soils is generally present at a shallow depth and contains high amount of soluble salts. These salts accumulate on the surface of the soil due to capillary rise of saline groundwater during dry periods of the year rendering the soil highly saline. Almost the entire area of the rain fed coastal saline soil is mono cropped in nature. The major agricultural crop of kharif is rice, grown during monsoon period when soil salinity is low. During the rest of the year, the land usually remains fallow due to high salt content of the soil.” This is how Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU), Coimbatore details about the coastal ecosystem. 
Chandra Kumar’s trenches have helped to leach out salts from the field and get accumulate in the trenches and the salt level is not harmful to fishes. Advantageously, the fish fed on the organic inputs like farm yard manures, vermicompost, green leaf manures have turned the water into nutrient rich solution for the paddy to grow up on par with chemicals fed agriculture. The fishes grow into half to one kg in 150 days (duration of Mappillai Samba). He harvests the fish a week before paddy harvest and it is a bonus of double income.
video
Fish culture along with Paddy gives an emotional satisfaction of producing food (paddy and fish) organically. Due to this reason both paddy and fish fetch better price than others in that area. Being fully Organic, the cost of inputs are drastically reduced for the entire cropping season, except the trench making done at the time of land preparation. Economical utilization of land is done with which he gets dual income in an agricultural season. At the cost of sincere and personal attention every day as it is an innovation and have no other bench marks to look upon. 


Mr. Chandra Kumar can be contacted through his mobile 98420 83083

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Birds in Pest Control

Birds are considered as one of the indicators of environment as they are sensitive to habitat change. Birds are known for its diversity in their bright colors, distinct voice (calls). 

Birds act as an important factor of biodiversity. Role to spread seeds result in plant dispersal results in increasing the forest cover. Likewise the role of birds as a pollinator plays an important role in fertilization and seed of many plants and trees (Eg. Humming Bird carries pollens from one tree to the other with its beak). We all know birds are flying creatures with various colored feathers. 

Are we aware of the fact that birds eat insects and keeps pest in control naturally? Yes birds often act as an Army at the border to protect the nation.  Birds in its glide, consume hundreds of insects, many of which are considered as pests.  Birds consume insects such as mosquitoes, beetles and moths to feed themselves and feed their young ones. Birds catch huge numbers of insects in their larval form, which are high in protein. Without birds, life would have turned miserable as many insects feed on plant and animals (from grains to human blood). Hence birds play a critical role in reducing and maintaining populations of insects in natural systems.



In a paddy field, the role of birds in pest control is enormous. Due to chemical version of agricultural practices, the network of birds in the paddy ecosystem has reduced. But we have scope of bring back the lost biodiversity.
Use of organic manures like farm yard manures (decomposed animal and plant wastes from a farm) to fields not only adds nutrients, improved the micro climate to multiply microbes and soil borne organisms like earthworms. Soil with rich micro-flora and fauna results in good quality soil (biological, physical and chemical properties). In due course of time the lost biodiversity can be rejuvenated.

Placing stumps of Palm or Coconut trees as bird’s perch in Paddy field have resulted in such a thing. Bird’s perch is a place made available for the birds who love to eat insect.  Birds have a feast satisfying its appetite from the paddy field and in return keep harmful insect in control. If enough bird’s perch are provided it acts like a warrior on duty. Cranes on the other hand do not need bird’s perch to do the military role, thanks a lot for the long legs they have.


In one of my field visit in Nedungadu village of Karaikal District, U.T of Puducherry, I found fields with bird’s perch. One field had many and found birds like King Crow, Black Bulbul, Mynas and sparrows sitting on the perches and feed on the larvae. This act greatly reduces the cost of pest control for the farmer and gives SAFE FOOD to people.


Birds are a part of the WEB OF LIFE. Each part of the web of life has a crucial role to play. When such interaction of biodiversity happens, the need for pesticides ceases and paves way for Organic Farming and GREENER TOMORROW.