Insect pests are major problems in achieving the maximum yields in agriculture. Fruit borers’ species Helicoverpa armigera is the most devastating pest which infests on vegetable crops like tomato, potato, gourds and other foliage crops.
Sometimes this pest also attack on chilli crop; gram crops like Bengal gram, Red gram and other pulses. The intensity of pest attack is estimated to be 5 – 80 % at different pest management systems.
Chemical and other insecticides are used to control the insect pests on all crops. The indiscriminate use of insecticides has resulted in poor sustainability in farming and ended in building up of pesticide residues in food chain, developed resistance and resurgence to pesticides among insects. Alternative plant protective measures are required to make a balance and effectively manage the insect pests.
Shifting to organic cultivation practices is the only left out option for making the agriculture as sustainable business. In ecofriendly organic farming the insect pests’ management is the most important challenge.
- Biological agents which are detrimental to the insects are the options one can think of in case of organic farming ecosystem.
- Bacteria, fungi and plant extracts which can kill insects may be used.
- Insect trap crops may be used to trap the insects, so that main crops are not infected.
Insect behavioral characteristics may also be considered as a strategy in insect pest management. The host plant preferences by the insect is more towards certain crops due to some plant natural characters such as attractive flower colours, smell of flower; leaf and also the taste and succulent nature.
Growing trap crops to manage pests in Organic vegetable cultivation.
Trap crops are the crops grown in between the target main crop to attract insects or pathogens protecting the main crop insect and disease attack. Pest reduction in main field may be due to the prevention of pest attack on target crop by attracting them with special characters like attractive flowers and smells. These trap crops may also attract natural enemies of insect pests and keep check on the pests on the target crops.
Trapping crop selected to grow should be attractive than the main crop and the space accommodation usually need to be minimum. Fast growing, early establishing natured trap crops can be selected.
Marigold crop may be grown as insect trap crop along with main crop to attract insects without damaging much the main crop. Marigolds may be grown one row for every 7 rows.
K SANJEEVA REDDY,
Senior Agronomist, BigHaat.
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