NPM Basics

Growing healthy plants is the first step in Non Pesticidal Management (NPM). This involves

1.a. Good Quality Seed: Selection and use of good quality seed which is locally adopted either from traditional farmers’ varieties or improved varieties released by the public sector institutions is important. Farmers are suggested to make their decision based on a seed matrix regarding suitability of the different varieties into their cropping patterns, based on the soil types, reaction to pest and diseases and their consumption preference.  They maintain the seed in their seed banks.  This ensures farmers to go for timely sowing with the seeds of their choice.  In rainfed areas timely sowing is one critical factor which affects the health and productivity of the crop.  The seed is treated with  concoctions depending on the problem for example cow urine, ash and asafetida concoction provides protection against several seed borne diseases like rice blast, or beejaraksha, beejamrut  to induce microbial activity in the soil and kill any seed borne pathogens.  Similarly in crops like brinjal where there is a practices of dipping of seedlings in milk and dipping fingers in milk before transplanting each seedling was observed to prevent viral infections. Several such practices are documented and tested by the farmers.

 

1.b. Reduce stress: The pest and disease susceptibility increases with abiotic stress.  Practices like mulching will improve the soil moisture availability.

2. Build healthy soils: Healthy soils give healthy crop. Chemical fertilizers especially nitrogenous fertilizer makes the plants succulent and increases the sucking pests like Brown Plant Hopper in rice. Production practices, such as putting on crop residues or other biomass as surface mulch, using compost and green manures, intercropping of legumes in cropping systems, and biocontrol of insect pests and diseases, all help to enhance yields and sustain soil fertility and health (Rupela et.al 2007)

3 Enhancing the habitat

3.a. Crop diversity: Crop diversity is another critical factor which reduces the pest problems. Traditionally farmers have evolved mixed cropping systems, intercropping and crop rotation systems. These systems will create a better environment for nutrient recycling and healthy ecosystems. On the contrary the monoculture of crops and varieties lead to nutrient mining and pest and disease buildup.  Under NPM farmers adopt mixed and intercropping systems with proper crop rotations.   

3.b. Trap and Border crops: Farmscaping, landscape farming, habitat management is an important way to manage insect pests. Many sucking pests fly from neighboring farmers’ fields.  In crops like chillies, groundnut, cotton, sunflower where thrips are a major problem, sowing thick border rows of tall growing plants like sorghum or maize will prevent insects from reaching the crop. Farmers adopt marigold as a trap crop for the gram pod borer reduces the pest load on pigeonpea. The flowers that have been oviposited by the female moths of Helicoverpa can be picked out and destroyed

 Table-2 Trap crops used for pest management

Crops Pests Trap crops
Cotton, groundnut Spodoptera Castor, sunflower
Cotton, Chickpea, pigeonpea Helicoverpa Marigold
Cotton Spotted bollworm Okra

3.c. Other agronomic practices: Several crop specific agronomic practices like alley ways in rice to allow enough light to reach the bottom of the plant are documented by the farmers and suggested by the scientists (Vyavasaya Panchangam, 2007).