AGRICULTURE TRIBUNE Monday, May 22, 2000, Chandigarh, India
 
Orobanche: threat to sarson cultivation
By Sanjeev Kumar and Jaswinder Singh Bedi
O
ilseeds constitute the second major group of agricultural crops in the country, next to foodgrains. India ranks third in the production of oilseeds in the world, even then the demand for edible oils is on the rise due to ever increasing human population. These crops not only play an important role in improving the economy and dietary conditions but also offer a good scope for the diversification of the cropping pattern in the rabi season. Sarson group crops are an important component of the cropping system in the plains of northern Punjab and are grown in a sizable area during the rabi season, especially in the Kandi belt (sub-montaneous parts) and south-western districts of Punjab, in the adjoining area of Haryana and the Terai belt of Uttar Pardesh. These regions represent warm and dry weather where moisture is a limiting factor and soils are inherently poor in fertility and light in texture. The present production levels have now come under serious threat due to occurrence of a parasitic weed called orobanche or commonly known as broomrape.

Drought proofing is an engineering
By Suraj Bhan Dahiya

I
N “The Drought Problem in India in relation to Agriculture”, Annals of Arid Zones Vol. II, A.M. Malik and Govindaswamy define drought as occurrence of four or more consecutive weeks, with the actual weekly rainfall equal to or less than half of the rainfall in a given subdivision in a normal season. Meteorologically, however, drought in an area or place may be defined as a situation when the annual rainfall in that area is less than 75per cent of the normal rainfall. 

Water management of indoor plants
By Sanjeev Sandal and Ashok Thakur

I
NDOOR gardening is getting popularity day by day and now it is common to find indoor plants inside houses and even in public offices. Everyone desires to have a beautiful indoor garden in or around his house or office. Besides, interior decoration, this hobby also acts as a source of pastime for old.

Farm operations for May

 


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Orobanche: threat to sarson cultivation
By Sanjeev Kumar and Jaswinder Singh Bedi

Oilseeds constitute the second major group of agricultural crops in the country, next to foodgrains. India ranks third in the production of oilseeds in the world, even then the demand for edible oils is on the rise due to ever increasing human population. These crops not only play an important role in improving the economy and dietary conditions but also offer a good scope for the diversification of the cropping pattern in the rabi season. Sarson group crops are an important component of the cropping system in the plains of northern Punjab and are grown in a sizable area during the rabi season, especially in the Kandi belt (sub-montaneous parts) and south-western districts of Punjab, in the adjoining area of Haryana and the Terai belt of Uttar Pardesh. These regions represent warm and dry weather where moisture is a limiting factor and soils are inherently poor in fertility and light in texture. The present production levels have now come under serious threat due to occurrence of a parasitic weed called orobanche or commonly known as broomrape. Previously reported as a stray incidence, it has appeared in a severe form, particularly in the rainfed area of the region.

In the field it looks like a beautiful plant with purple-coloured flowers 15 to 30 cm in height, occasionally growing in clusters. But in reality it is a parasite growing on the roots of the host. Broomrape lacks chlorophyll and are holoparasites, dependent completely on the host for all their nutritional and water requirements. With the result that the plants have less growth and yield is poor. Orobanche plants are without leaves, and upper two-thirds part of the stem bears inflorescence which is rather sparse. Each flower bears a small capsule which contains 40,000 to 50,000 or even more very minute seeds. The seeds can survive in the field for up to 20 years.

They remain dormant and germinate in response to chemical stimulus from the host roots whenever the host crop is sown. That means, once a field has been severely infested with the broomrape seed, it becomes unfit to raise the host crop. The seed after germination, the radicle grow towards the roots and get attached to it.

A haustorium is formed at the point of attachment which penetrates the root skin and establishes a link with the vascular tissue of the root. Now the nutrition and water starts reaching the haustorium from where a spike emerges and comes out of the soil and later produces flowers and seeds. The emergence of the spike or broomrape shoot usually coincides with the flowering of the host and that is the period when it competes strongly with the host sink, diverting carbohydrates, aminoacids and water principally from the host roots and reproductive organs.

The orobanche-infested crop of rapeseed and mustard lacked profuse branching and foliage looked bronzed or blighted from a distance due to their withering. Depending on the level of infestation, damage from orobanche can cause even complete crop failure by causing wilting of leaves and stunted growth.

A preliminary survey has indicated that farmers are not aware of the presence of the parasite as majority of them lack proper knowledge. Some farmers hand weed or hoe the parasite, after it becomes evident to the eye during the second fortnight or February or early March. While some farmers leave the parasite unchecked out of ignorance or because they consider oilseeds as a low-input crop.

The most commonly recognised movement of orobanche infection is within a field or between neighboring fields. Some of the possible mechanisms for this movement include seed dispersal by wind and water, tillage operations, infested seed, infested farm equipment and even after crop harvest fields are used for grazing cattle that also serve as an important vector of orobanche seeds.

Presently, no effective herbicidal control measure is available due to intimate relationship the weed has with the host. But some procedures and precautions that farmers can follow to prevent the movement of orobanche seed from infested to non-infested sites are prevent orobanche plants from producing viable seeds, clean farm equipment and tools to ensure that they are free from contaminated soil before transporting them to a non-infested field and planting crop seeds that have been harvested from non-infested fields. Otherwise like a small fire, small infestation will grow, reproduce profusely and spread exponentially to unmanageable and devastating proportion. The farmers confronted with heavy infestation may abandon the cultivation of rapeseed and mustard crops which are usually the ones best suited for these areas.
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Drought proofing is an engineering
By Suraj Bhan Dahiya

IN “The Drought Problem in India in relation to Agriculture”, Annals of Arid Zones Vol. II, A.M. Malik and Govindaswamy define drought as occurrence of four or more consecutive weeks, with the actual weekly rainfall equal to or less than half of the rainfall in a given subdivision in a normal season. Meteorologically, however, drought in an area or place may be defined as a situation when the annual rainfall in that area is less than 75per cent of the normal rainfall. It is further classified as “moderate drought” if rainfall deficit is between 25 and 50 per cent and “severe drought” when it is more than 50 per cent. Areas where frequency of drought as defined above is 20 per cent of the year examined are categorised as “drought areas” and areas having drought conditions for more than 40 per cent of the year under consideration represent “chronically drought-affected areas.”

Loveday says: “History gives no example of a drought extending over the whole India; and meteorologists declare such an event impossible.” During the past 300 years we have experienced 26 major famines, during the past 700 years there have been 17very severe food disasters and during the historical times of 34 great famines of the world 18 have occurred in India. The frequency and cyllical order show the peculiar susceptibility of this country to crop failures and recurrent shortage of food and fodder supply.

Probabilities of erratic rainfall based on coefficient of occurrence of low rainfall reveal that south-western parts of the country have been more prone to famines and droughts. As per rainfall data available for the year 1999-2000, 139 districts in the country had very low rains. In all, 11 states are facing drought of different magnitudes, however, the severity of drought is extreme in Gujarat, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh. During the monsoon period last year Gujarat had 38 per cent less rains; in 11 districts it was very low while in four districts virtually there was no rain. Rajasthan experienced 17 to 24 per cent deficient rains and in 14 districts rain was very scanty. The shortfall of rains in different states is given below:

State Districts having grossly inadequate rain:

Tamil Nadu 19
Uttar Pradesh  14
Orissa  13

Haryana 

12

Karnataka 

10

Andhra Pradesh 

08

Madhya Pradesh 

07

Maharashtra 

07

Himachal Pradesh 

03

The occurrence of drought in Gujarat is the most tragic historical feature in the revenue administration of the state. More than 9,500 villages in the state or more than 40 million people have been declared drought-hit. All sources of water have dried up in the northern and western parts of the state. The poor monsoon rains damaged crops worth Rs 3,000 crore in large areas of Saurashtra.

The worst drought in 100 years has dried out all wells in Hadiyana, a coastal settlement in Gujarat, and a few can afford to buy water on sale. In Saurashtra people have been rioting for drinking water.

People subscribe that the loss of cattle due to this drought is much greater than it used to be in the last century. Not a blade of grass is visible and thus miseries of the people are severe and manifold in Gujarat.

A tragedy about a century and a half old has stepped out of memory’s nightmarish shadows in Rajasthan. The year 2000 brings back memories of “chappaniyo dukal” or the great famine and drought of 1856. For Rajasthan, this is the second straight year of drought where precious water has disappeared in 26 of the 32 districts. Report from district collectors show that 23,406 out of 34,694 villages are affected. The loss to crops ranged from 75 to 100 per cent. The human population affected in these districts numbered 261 lakh and the livestock affected is 345 lakh. The present drought has shattered the state’s economy. The farmers are seeking loans at exorbitant rate of upto 60 per cent of interest for their survival.

The spectre of the current drought is looming large over Mr Chandrababu Naidu’s silicon state, Andhra Pradesh. The Telugu Desam government known for information and technology did not visualise the intensity of the calamity. The government’s estimates on crop loss this year in the state are worth Rs 2,566.91 crore. The state has declared 16 of the 23 districts as “drought stricken”. Farmers in drought-prone areas are resorting to distress sale of cattle because they are unable to feed the animals. Thirtyseven suicide cases have been reported from the state so far.

For planners and administrators it is perhaps the biggest challenge of the millennium which, if not tackled deftly, could lead to a disaster that the country has not witnessed for a century or more. The system of the present relief measures are dictated by the famine codes of 1883. The famine relief policy of the British time was based on the maxims laid down by Turgot and J.S. Mill. Turgot said:” The best and the most useful kind of alms consist of providing means to earn them.” Though such measures are necessary, yet not sufficient in the present-day economy. Redemption seems for away as the state treasuries are dry and the vision of drought management is not proactive:one has to shift attention from drought as a food crisis to an economic crisis. Prof. Amartya Sen rightly says that in drought conditions people’s miseries multiply as the state apparatus virtually collapses and the scrupulous elements get into for exploitation.

Mr Anil Aggarwal, Director of the Centre of Science and Environment, tells us that this drought is government-made catastrophe. It is a sorry reflection that there is literally no rain water harvesting in our country and investment on the irrigation system continues to decline year after year. Modern drought management experts find relevance in today’s sense what is codifed in Kutilya’s Arthashastra: “During famine the king’s duty shall be to show favour to his people by providing them with seeds and provisions, favour by distributing either his own collection of provisions or the hoarded income of the rich among people or seek for help from his friends among kings, or the policy of thinning the rich by extracting excessive revenue, or causing them to vomit their accumulated wealth.”

There was a terrible drought in the offing in Gujarat and Rajasthan was evident way back in September last year when people had begun fleeing their villages. But the governments there did not react promptly and rightly. Neither the governments of Gujarat and Rajasthan took pains to introduce crop insurance scheme nor they helped the farmers to get kisan credit cards to meet their urgent financial requirements. Recall the scheme of famine insurance grant introduced in 1878 and in the annual budget of the Government of India a provision of Rs 1.50 crore was made with a view to forming a permanent fund for drought management. The Jaipur Maharaja donated in 1900 Rs 15 lakh in government securities to be held in the trust for times of general distress. This was officially known as Indian People’s Famine Trust. Such mission can be launched at the district level even now.

Now when we are waging a war against hunger and thirst, the country must mobilise all its resources to meet the most daunting challenge it faces since Independence. A cohesive information campaign has to be developed as part of the strategy to fight drought conditions. Sadly enough, the government machinery is still busy to suppress the news of hunger deaths to ensure that the system works well. Ground realities are that in Gujarat and Rajasthan, half of the livestock wealth has perished. The farmer’s deaths have gone close to half a century.

The British style drought management would not solve our all problems. We have to invariably fight outdated government precepts and codes. The people need quick dose for revival of their economies. Drought proofing is an engineering and political challenge, let us face it with update skill and vision. 
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Water management of indoor plants
By Sanjeev Sandal and
Ashok Thakur

INDOOR gardening is getting popularity day by day and now it is common to find indoor plants inside houses and even in public offices. Everyone desires to have a beautiful indoor garden in or around his house or office. Besides, interior decoration, this hobby also acts as a source of pastime for old.

The soil inside the pots acts as a medium for plant growth. The soil for indoor plants should be, of course, texture for proper drainage and aeration, optimum root growth and sufficient organic matter. Good soil mixture for pot plants should have two parts of soil and one part each of organic matter and sand. However, for foliage plants, pot should contain equal parts of soil and organic matter. The soil mixture should have the optimum soil moisture (neither too wet not too dry) at the time of potting for successful establishment of indoor plants.

Watering is an important aspect for the success or failure of house plants. Improper watering — either over or inadequate — leads to injury or death of indoor plants. The frequency of watering depends upon the type of plant, stage of plant growth, size of the plant in relation to pot soil, light, temperature and humidity.

The water requirement by the potted plants can be judged either by knocking the side of pot with wooden hammer, by inserting a finger in the top soil or by seeing the colour of soil. Even after tapping the rim of the pot to loosen the plant, the intact earth-ball can be taken out and after examining it for watering, it can be replaced back in pot.

The pot plants are usually watered from top but watering the pot from bottom is considered more efficient. This can be done by half submerging of pot in a shallow container full of water. The water from shallow container rises through the bottom hole of pot by capillary movement and as soon as it reaches the top soil, the pot is removed from water. After draining the excess of water, the pot is again placed at the site where it was before.

Watering from the bottom of pot is very useful for overcoming the problems of indoor gardeners when they are away from home on a holiday. The pot is kept in water container and a moistened wick is placed inside the container. The water slowly passes through the wick to the dry soil for a day. In another method, which is also useful, two or three thin bamboo stakes slightly higher than the plants are installed in soil along the sides of pots after saturating the pot with water and then a polyethylene bag is tagged with the stakes. This helps in conservation of water and keep the soil wet through out the day. 
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Farm operations for May

Rice:

— Right time for sowing paddy nursery of varieties i.e. PR-116, PR-114, PR-113, PR-111, PR-106, IR-8, Jaya, PR-108, PR-103, PR-115 and sowing must be completed immediately. Apply 12-15 cartloads of well-rotten farmyard manure per acre. Flood the field and puddle it well. Apply 26 kg of urea and 60 kg of superphosphate per acre of puddling. Prepare plots of convenient size.

— Treat seed before sowing to prevent primary seed-borne infection. Dip 8 kg of seed in 10 litres of water containing 10 g Ceresan wet or 10 g Agallol or 5 g Tafasan or 5 g Areton and 1 g Streptocycline for 8 to 10 hours before sowing.

— Sow the treated and pre-germinated seed @ 1kg/20sqm. Keep the soil moist by irrigating the plot frequently. Apply another dose of 26 kg urea per acre about a fortnight after sowing.

Weeds in paddy nursery can effectively be controlled by applying 1200 ml per acre of any recommended brand formulations of Butachlor 50 EC or Thiobencarb 50 EC. The herbicide should be applied in the standing water seven days after sowing of the pre-germinated seed or alternatively apply Sofit 37.5 EC (pretilachlor plus Safner (Readymix) @ 500 ml/ acre three days after sowing of pre-germinated seed.

— During the initial stages of growth, light irrigation should be given but after about 10 days, sufficient water should be kept standing to avoid Iron deficiency, particularly in the case of light-textured soil. However, if the seedling in the nursery show yellowing of leaf tips, spray thrice with 1 per cent ferrous sulphate solution at weekly interval. If leaf turns rusty brown after becoming yellow, give a spray of 0.5 neutralised zinc sulphate solution.

— In case attack of plant hopper, hispa and stem borer in rice nursery in noticed then spray of 560 ml of Nuvacron 36 SL against plant hoppers and rice stem borer may be carried out immediately. If the attack of hispla is noticed in the nursery, clip off and destroy the leaf tips of the affected seedlings before transplanting. If a severe attack is noticed then spray 120 ml Methy1 Parathion 50 EC in 100 litres of water per acre should be done.

Sugarcane:

— Control weeds in the plant as well as ratoon crop by giving hoeings with bullock-drawn plough or tractor-drawn implements. Due to prevailing hot weather conditions, the sugarcane crop requires frequent irrigations at 8 to 10 days interval. Apply 65 kg of urea per acre to ratoon crop. Moisture conservation may be done by spreading mulch in between cane rows. Use rice straw/wheat straw/rice husk for mulch. This also checks the growth of weeds.

— For checking attack of black bug, spray 350 ml of Thiodan 35 EC or Dursban 20 EC in 200 litres of water. Direct spray material into the leaf whirl.

— Sugarcane mite can be checked by spraying 400 ml of Malathion 50 EC in 100 litres of water per acre. Destroy “baru” weed growing nearby which is an alternative host for mite.

— The thrips also damage the sugarcane, particularly ratoon crop, so spray the crop which 400 ml of Malathion 50 EC or 350 ml of Thiodan 35 EC per acre in 100 litres of water.

— Sometimes iron deficiency appeared in ration and plant crops in light-textured soils and calcareous soils. Deficiency symptoms first appear in young leaves as yellow stripes between green veins. Later, the veins also turn yellow. To control this, spray the crop with 1.0 kg Ferrous sulphate dissolved in 100 litres of water on the foliage or the crop soon after the appear of symptoms and 2-3 sprays at weekly interval are sufficient.

— Progressive Farming, PAU
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