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Tue, 10 Dec 2019

Northeast Today

Army Worm Infestation – Threat to the Farmers

Army Worm Infestation – Threat to the Farmers
June 07
15:17 2019

Pallavi Devi and Priyanka Saikia

Rice swarming caterpillar, Spodopteramauritia has engulfed a large area under paddy cultivation in many of the districts of Assam resulting in loss of production and causing a threat to the livelihood of the poor farmers in the recent few years.

The initial damage caused by this nocturnal pest is difficult to spot because they usually hide in the cracks, debris or crevices in the soil during day time. They feed on leaves, rice panicles, and young seedlings by cutting from the base and defoliates the plants completely. Generally, they invade and devastate the transplanted plots in large number in big swarm overnight as cattle’s do. After destroying a crop field the swarm marches to another field in a regular army formation manner, hence this pest is also called as “Armyworm”. Adult armyworms survive better and produce more eggs when the temperature is at 15°C maximum, and when plants are naturally fertilized. Heavy rains or floods followed by a dry spell, and the presence of alternate hosts provided favorable conditions for the pest’s growth. Experts believe shifting from traditional farming practices as one of the primary reasons for this situation. In the year 2016, there was an epidemic of armyworms infesting 1612 ha of paddy field in Jorhat district. Out of which only 93 ha of the affected areas were able to be treated with department interventions. The climatic condition of the region favors rapid growth of the pest that invokes severe devastation of the crop fields. So preventive measures are of utmost importance in initial stages as it is very difficult to control a severe outbreak.

Crop rotation, deep ploughing, removing weeds from the field and bunds, rearing of ducks, digging a trench around the infested field, pouring kerosene oil into the stagnant water in the bounded fields (two litres kerosene per hectare) and using a long rope stretched across the field, two people can walk across the the field and shake the paddy plants rigorously, installation of  light traps and dusting chlorpyriphos 1.5% D or endosulphan 5% D @ 30kg/ha are some of the preventive measures to control this pest.

 

 

 

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