PLANT HEALTH MANAGEMENT DIVISION
Agriculture is influenced by an array of biotic and abiotic stresses, which have to be managed through multipronged strategies. A strategic science based approach is needed to address the plant health risks and issues that affect productivity. The looming threat of climate change may further exacerbate the crop losses due to pests. The integrity of agro-ecosystem is vital for sustainable agriculture. Intensive use of ecosystems to enhance productivity can affect agro-ecosystems through soil erosion, water depletion / contamination, biodiversity loss and disruption in flow of ecosystem services, which will have a bearing on plant health and biosecurity.
The indiscriminate use of chemical pesticides has been causing wide spread environmental pollution, resistance, resurgence of insect pests and is impacting food safety. Plant Health Management is vital for the sustainable agriculture, food security, food safety, agro based industries and economy of a country.
To enhance the knowledge of the farmers on Plant Health Management, NIPHM is creating a pool of master trainers by training them on various aspects of PHM strategies. There is a need to train the Agriculture Extension Officers in AESA based PHM in conjunction with EE for PM to promote environmentally sustainable plant health management practices to reduce excessive reliance on chemical pesticides. Incorporation of biofertilizers, particularly mycorrhizae in agricultural practices play a vital role in promotion of soil health and uptake of important macro and micro nutrients by the crops. Biological control through parasitoids, predators and microbials constitutes a significant component in holistic management of insect pests and diseases as well as abiotic stresses. In view of complementarity and likely synergistic benefits of AESA based PHM implemented in conjunction with EE for PM, NIPHM is popularizing these concepts and is committed to create a pool of master trainers who in turn are expected to popularize AESA based PHM in conjunction with EE for PM among farmers.
I. CAPACITY BUILDING PROGRAMMEES
A) Agro-EcoSystem Analysis based Plant Health Management and Ecological Engineering for Pest Management
Agro-EcoSystem Analysis (AESA) is based on experiential learning of farmers about the intricate and interdependent relationship of abiotic and biotic components of an ecosystem and decision making by the farmers. Keeping in view the importance of sustainable pest management in rice crop, NIPHM organized crop specific, season long training programme on AESA based PHM in conjunction with Ecological Engineering for pest management in Rice & vegetables are organised.
Crop specific AESA - Rice
In this programme the participants gain hands on experience by raising rice crop with different management practices with ecological approaches, System of Rice Intensification (SRI), Modified SRI, using Drum seeder for sowing, etc. Participants were also equipped with skills in On-Farm Production of Biocontrol agents viz., Braconspp, Spiders, Reduviid bug, Trichogrammas pp, Trichoderma Spp., Psuedomonasspp., Entomopathogenic fungi, Entomopathogenic nematode(EPN),etc. FFS methodology Integrated Soil Nutrient and Weed Management, Rhizosphere Engineering & Ecological Engineering for Pest Management are learnt by the participants.
The participants will conduct various short term experiments to study compensation ability, Pest and Defender (P:D) ratio, biodiversity of insects and mode of action of systemic insecticides. The abundance of Ladybird beetles, Spiders, Wasps, Syrphid flies, etc. is generally observed by participants due to presence of sunflower, cowpea, okra, onion, maize and marigold on the bunds due to ecological engineering for pest management. They also observe advantages of SRI and MSRI over drum seeder and existing practices.
Crop specific AESA - Vegetables
Thirty days training programme on "Crop specific AESA in Vegetables" is being organized, in which participants are given hands on practices on on-farm production of biocontrol agents and microbial biopesticides. During first 7 days module the participants are exposed to the principles of AESA, Ecological Engineering, Living Soil Concept, Rhizosphere Engineering, INM, IWM in different crops, expertise on weed management equipment, safe use of herbicides. Participants are also exposed to biological control, biointensive IPM, recognition of insect pests and defenders in different agricultural/horticultural crop ecosystems, Integrated Rodent Pest Management, FFS methodology, and principles of pesticide application technology. Participants will be visiting farmers' fields who adopted the concept of AESA and Ecological Engineering for Pest Management.
Agro-ecosystem Analysis (AESA) and Ecological Engineering (EE) for Pest Management
Participants learn principles of AESA based PHM in conjunction with EE for PM. Ecological Engineering for Pest Management relies on cultural techniques for manipulation of the habitat to enhance biological control. Participants are also trained in on-farm production of biocontrol agents.
Fundamentals of Plant Health Management for Plant Health Doctors
To become a successful extension officer or facilitator it is essential to know the basic principles of plant health management and skills for promoting sustainable practices. In view of the importance of Plant Health Management, NIPHM organized 21 days Training Programme on "Fundamentals of Plant Health Management for Plant Health doctors" to create a pool of master trainers. The participants visitthe field and practic the AESA procedures in different crops such as rice and vegetables. They also visit the fields which adopted Ecological Engineering techniques in Rice and Cabbage at NIPHM farm and work out the models of Ecological Engineering for different crops in their region based on the literature available on attractant/repellent plants. They also learn significance of the P:D ratio, plant compensation ability, insect zoo studies, etc.
The participants are trained in differentiating biotic and abiotic damage symptoms as well as detection and diagnosis of damage by insects, diseases, nematodes, etc., mass production of host insect Corcyra and parasitoids viz., Trichogramma, Chelonus, Goniozus, etc., and predators such as Chrysoperla, Reduviids, and Spiders. They also learn on-farm production of microbial biopesticides Trichoderma, Pseudomonas, Entomopathogenic Fungi by using low cost inoculation chamber. They learn the techniques of mass production of Entomopathogenic Nematodes as well as Vesiccular Arbscular Mycorhiza and Arbscular Mycorhiza. The participants develop expertise in various aspects of Plant Health Management so as to serve farmers as an effective plant health doctors.
Integrated Soil, Nutrient and Weed Management (ISNWM)
Integrated Nutrient Management (INM) along with soil fertility plays a significant role in crop management through combined and harmonious use of organic, mineral and bio-fertilizer resources. Programme covers the principles of AESA, Ecological Engineering, Living Soil Concept, rhizosphere engineering, INM, IWM in different crops, Expertise on weed management equipment, safe use of herbicides and issues in weed management practices are also being imparted.
Monocropping and intensive crop cultivation practices are continuously mining the soil nutrients as well as reducing microbial population in the rhizosphere. A short course (6 days) in Rhizosphere Engineering is designed by NIPHM with the objective of creating awareness on the role of microbials in enhancing soil fertility and crop protection & production. Participants are imparted knowledge about the role of rhizosphere microorganisms and skills for rhizosphere manipulation in plant health promotion, Isolation techniques for beneficial micro-organisms, fungal bio-inoculants for soil and plant health management, multiplication techniques of Trichoderma, Mycorrhizae, Entomopathogenic Nematodes.
Farmers Field School Methodology (FFS):
The Farmers field school (FFS) is a participatory approach to extension, whereby farmers are given opportunity to make a choice in the methods of production through discovery based approach. For the purpose of imparting knowledge and skills in organizing FFS, a short duration (8 days) training course in 'Farmers Field School Methodology' is also organized by NIPHM.
II. Production of Biocontrol Agents and Adoption of Biointensive Strategies:
Production Protocol for Biocontrol agents and Quality Assessment & Quality Management of Microbial Biopesticides.
The use of natural enemies and biopesticides is an alternative for sustaining high production with low ecological impact. Many insect parasitoids predators are able to kill the harmful insects or reduce their vigour and further multiplication. Similarly different soil-borne fungi and bacteria are able to kill or reduce the disease causing microorganisms and insect-pests, colonize plant roots and have beneficial effects on the plant. A number of technologies have been developed for mass production of the biocontrol agents and there is a need for quick dissemination of such technologies.
In view of the importance of biocontrol agents in pest management, and to ensure the availability of quality biopesticides NIPHM initiated capacity building programmes on "Production protocol for bioagents and quality assessment and quality management of microbial biopesticides" of 21 days duration. NIPHM is also organizing short term courses viz., Production Protocol for Biocontrol agents and Biopesticides (duration 11 days) and Quality Assessment and Quality Management of Microbial Biopesticides (duration10 days).
Production Protocol for Biocontrol Agents and Biopesticides
The trainees are provided hands on experience on mass production of different parasitoids, predators, microbial biopesticides and entomopathogenic nematodes (EPN). The various skills imparted are, mass rearing of host Insects for production of NPV; Corcyra for production of Trichogramma; Papaya Mealybug and its parasitoid, Acerophagus papayae; preparation of neem seed kernel extract (NSKE); mass production of, Trichoderma spp., Metarhizium sp., Beauveria sp., Verticillum sp., Nomuraea sp., Paecilomycis sp., Pseudomonas sp., Bacillus spp., etc.; preparation of mother cultures for biopesticides; Isolation and mass multiplication of EPN and techniques for development of bioformulations.
Quality Assessment and Quality Management of Biopesticides
Use of biocontrol agents and biopesticides for successful biological control of pests mainly depends on their quality and timely application. There is a need for capacity building, capacity in quality assessment and quality management of biopesticides. The trainees were provided with hands-on practices for quality analysis on quality standards such as testing of Helicoverpa armigera, Nuclear polyhedrosis virus (HaNPV), Bacillus thuringiensis (B.t.), Trichoderma, Pseudomonas, Entomopathogenic fungi, etc. This included both microscopic counts as well as bioassay methods for assessing quantity / quality.
On farm production of biocontrol agents to promote AESA based PHM in conjunction with Ecological Engineering for Pest Management
NIPHM has developed simple methodologies with the available low cost inputs for the mass production on of biocontrol agents and microbial biopesticides at farm level. It is offered as 10 days training programme to the extension functionaries of State and Central Government.
The programme mainly focuses on the mass production of host culture Corcyra, Parasitoids viz., Trichogramma, Chelonus, Gonioses, Bracon and Predators such as Reduviids, Spiders and Microbial Biopesticides such as Trichoderma, Pseudomonas, Entomopathogenic fungi and Entomopathogenic Nematodes (EPN), biofertilizers including Vesicular Arbuscular Mycorrhiza (VAM), vermicompost, preparation of fruit fly lures and traps etc. Additionally the skills are imparted on AESA based Plant Health Management in conjunction with Ecological Engineering for Pest Management and seed treatment and biopriming.
The programme is also offered to farmers groups (30-50 numbers) from various states. The farmers ‘'programme is fully practical oriented and they are given hands on training and support by giving mother cultures.
III. Collaboration with Central, State Government Organisations & others :
Collaboration with Agriculture Department, Government of Maharashtra
Training Programmes on "Principles of Agro-Eco System Analysis and Ecological Engineering for Plant Health Management for the Officials of Maharashtra State Department of Agriculture under CROPSAP Project" were organized by NIPHM. Participants were trained on different aspects like Agro Eco System Analysis, Living Soil Concept, Rhizosphere Engineering, Ecological Engineering, Principles of Biosecurity, Pesticide Application Techniques, Integrated Rodent Pest Management and Pest Surveillance. They are given hands on practice on farm production of biocontrol agents.
Collaboration with Tobacco Board, Government of India :
NIPHM entered into an agreement with tobacco board for promoting biointensive management of pests in tobacco crop-ecosystem. Training programmes are organized for Tobacco Board Officials from Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka States. They are imparted with hands-on practices in basics and specialized skills of AESA, EE for pest management. Management of pests and diseases of tobacco and other crops, role of parasitoids and predators in IPM, mass production of biological control agents, microbial biopesticides, EPNs, pesticide application techniques, FFS, Integrated Soil, Nutrient, and Weed management, etc. are imparted.
By using Trichoderma and Pseudomonas farmers were able to reduce soil borne diseases and 2-3 chemical pesticide applications in tobacco nursery. About 80-90% reduction in the incidence of black shank & wilt diseases and 30-40% increase in plant vigour and yield was observed in the field, while 2-3 chemical pesticide sprays can also be reduced.
Collaboration with KVKs of ICAR, SAUs and NGOs
In order to promote AESA based PHM in conjunction with Ecological Engineering for Pest Management, besides organizing capacity building programmes for Master Trainers of KVK centers. NIPHM has also launched an initiative to collaborate with KVKs including those functioning under NGOs. Under this collaboration NIPHM capacity building programmes are organized for Subject Matter Specialists (SMS) to impart skills in
a) AESA based PHM in conjunction with Ecological Engineering for Pest Management
b) On-farm production of Biocontrol agents and Microbial Biopesticides In addition to participation of SMS from Government KVKs, SMS from KVKs functioning under NGO were also trained.
Collaboration with CNBRCD, Bangalore
NIPHM entered in to MoU with Centre for Natural Biological Resources and Community Development CNBRCD an NGO (recognized by Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR), Government of India) to carry out research in promotion of PHM with specific reference to microbial biofertilizers and Mycorrhiza.
Collaboration with VIKASA, Araku Valley
NIPHM entered MoU with VIKASA for promoting environmentally sustainable Plant Health Management practices through Training and Research among Tribal Communities located in Araku Valley, Visakhapatnam district of Andhra Pradesh.
Collaboration with Department of Agriculture, Government of Tamil Nadu
for Promotion of On-farm production of Biocontrol agents and microbial biopesticides to promote AESA based PHM in conjunction with Ecological Engineering for Pest Management for training and establishing on-farm production centres in 150 villages. A total of 152 Agricultural Officers of Tamil Nadu state were trained in a mission mode in "On-farm production of Biocontrol agents and microbial biopesticides to promote AESA based PHM in conjunction with ecological engineering for pest management" (10 day programme). The programme is being implemented in 150 villages in 16 districts.
Collaboration with Department of Agriculture, Government of Meghalaya
in implementing the RKVY project "Adoption of Agro-Ecosystem Analysis based Bio-intensive Pest Management Strategies and Promotion of Decentralized Biocontrol Agents and Biopesticides Production Centres through Farmer self-help groups in Meghalaya". Total cost of the project is Rs. 229.4 Lakhs for three years. The project aims to build capacity of the extension officials and farmers in adoption of AESA based PHM in conjuction with Ecological Engineering for Pest Management with on-farm production of Biocontrol Agents and Microbial Biopesticides to promote sustainable agriculture.