Agriculture scientists and environmentalists predict that the deadly pest, fall armyworm (FAW), could turn out to be a scourge for farmers in former undivided Adilabad district in the coming crop seasons. The pestilence, which had primarily attacked maize crop in Nirmal and Adilabad districts, had damaged crop to the extent of 90% in some cases and is expected to attack even cotton and soyabean crops.
“It is better to take precautionary and preventive measures before the commencement of sowing in kharif this year,” warned Coordinator of Adilabad District Agriculture Advisory and Technology Transfer Centre (DAATTC) Sudhanshu Kasbe. “Go in for deep ploughing to expose more soil to the sun and avoid staggered sowing,” he suggested.
“If an entire village goes in for sowing within a short time frame, the growth of crop would be uniform and the distribution of the pest will be uniform too, which reduces the crop damage. Also, maize should not be sown until at least 50 mm of rainfall is recorded during the season,” he explained.
The scientist also suggested sowing of treated maize seeds and inter-cropping with red gram and use of pheromone traps.
“There is need for documenting the methods that farmers in Mahabubnagar and Ranga Reddy districts and in some places in Karnataka had used to control FAW. Also, instead of using the deadly pesticides recommended for its control without carrying any research, farmers should go in for local solutions,” advised Hyderabad-based environmentalist Donthi Narasimha Reddy.
In the last season agriculture scientists had deployed some methods of damage-control in maize crop which is cultivated in about 20,000 hectares in erstwhile Adilabad. One of the methods, suggested by Food and Agriculture Organisation, was the use of sand and lime mixture in the whorls of the maize plants.