Express News Service
PUDUKKOTTAI: A joint research project to monitor and manage fall armyworm, which causes massive damage to maize crops, is under way in Pudukkottai since last week. It is a joint project of M S Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF), the Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International (CABI), and Crop Health and Protection (CHAP) — a UK-based agri-tech company.
Fall armyworm is a highly invasive pest, which caused a lot of damage to maize crop in the South, especially places like Pudukkottai, in 2018-19. Scientists from MSSRF said the area under maize cultivation in Pudukkottai reduced to 1,600 acres in 2022 from 6,000 acres in 2018 due to fall armyworm.
“This new intervention will help to establish evidence-based sustainable approaches for monitoring and managing the pest, which is location-specific. This new monitoring tool has sensors and will be able to track the worms. We tested it at two farms in Pudukkottai and it yielded successful results. Now, we are planning to implement this at 10 farms in Pudukkottai,” said Dr R Rajkumar, senior scientist, MSSRF.
He explained that devices kept in the field have a sensor and recognise pheromone drops. This will help in monitoring and managing the pest.
“In a traditional trap, a farmer has to personally go and check every unit to see how many worms have been trapped. In this sensor-based device, we lay a sentinel of traps, which serves as a guard. The farmer does not need to visit as the sensor will do the work. Monitoring can be done through mobile phone.
This is a step ahead in monitoring pests. After fall armyworm, we can use this to monitor other pests, too,” said Vinod Pandit of CABI.
The Department of Agriculture and TNAU will also be part of the project.