Dealing with Pests

Check pest attack, light a lamp

I was at Prakriti, Bharatiya Bhavan’s Nature Festival and while interacting with visitors and participants came across a simple idea which has been used by farmers to combat pests but now forgotten.

A lady from Dahanu, who owns a Chickoo orchard was worried by the pest menace which has been playing havoc with her chickoos lately. She said ever since the Bhor trees which stood on the boundary of her orchard, had been chopped there has been an increasing frequency of attacks.

Dr Satyabroto Banerji, a technology coordinator with Safety Brigade who was at hand suggested this method:

  • At dusk place a kerosene lamp on a plate of water and light the lamp. Pest will come attracted by the light and die.

Interestingly, this will work if the orchard is in dark and there is not many source of light and if the same is done before the pest attack the crop.

One can also plant marigold and neem on the boundary of the plot.


500 yr. old teak tree

A five-century old teak tree stands tall inside the Kappayam forests in Edamalayar range and is one with the biggest girth , writes Ignatius Pereira

tallest teak in the world

KOLLAM: The giant teak tree deep inside the Kappayam forests is around 500 years old. No one need even think of getting to its annual rings to count the exact age, as, in the past 20 years, a watchman has been guarding the behemoth.

The only tree in the wild to enjoy the privilege is in the Edamalayar range under the Malayattoor division of the Forest Department, which has listed it as “a priceless antique treasure of the Kerala forests.”

The 38.5-metre-tall Kappayam teak is shorter than the 48.5-metre Kannimara teak in Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary. But what lends the Kappayam teak its giant status is the generous 7.75 metre girth. The Kannimara teak has a girth of only 6.57 metres. The Forest Department has recorded the height and the girth on the tree.

The Kappayam teak stands at Narangathara at the eastern end of the Edamalayar dam catchment area, providing a spectacular display of its height and girth. The tree is healthy and continues to grow and flower annually. The poaching of a bigger teak tree, called the Jonakapura teak, from the area 25 years ago made the government post a watchman.

The Forest Department found Bhaskara Pillai of Nooranad in Alappuzha district as the right man for the job. Mr. Pillai had earlier worked as a daily-wage worker with the department to mark hardwood and softwood trees in the forest area earmarked to become the catchment area of the dam.

His dedication and courage became the qualifications for getting posted as the ‘bodyguard’ of the tree in February 1991. Mr. Pillai was selected for the task by the present Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, T.M. Manoharan, during his term as Conservator of Forests, Thrissur.

Mr. Pillai said the tree appeared to have survived facing great challenges. Though not so huge, seven other teak trees of similar age stood in the Kappayam area, one of them bearing the scar inflicted by a saw many years ago. For some reason, the poachers left without felling it.

Mr. Manoharan told The Hindu that the naturally growing tree would never be felled and preserved as a treasure for posterity. Kappayam was one area which the Forest Department discovered to be a place with many huge naturally growing teak trees and all of them were now given tough protection.

Courtesy The Hindu

Controlling rodents

Some Traditional Methods of Rodent Control in Field

Of late I have been encountering a serious problem. It’s been the second time since I sowed pumpkin seeds on my farm plot which were eaten away by the rodents. I searched the web and could not get any satisfactory remedy to it, until I asked Delhi-based Manoj Singh of Chandel Agritech Solutions. He was kind enough to suggest the following measures:

  • A few traditional methods such as the placing of screw-pine leaves along the edges of fields and flagging of palm leaves or polythene pieces on a 3–4 feet long rod in fields or plant material which makes rattling sounds are used by farmers to scare away the rodents.
  • Conventionally farmers carry out deep tillage which also destroys rodent burrows and drives away rodents.
  • Farmers sometimes place tree branches or T shaped perching poles in the field to encourage predation by owls.
  • ·Reduce harbourage areas in and around fields by eliminating unnecessary vegetation, garbage, piles of junk, etc.
  • Before planting, fields may be flooded to kill or displace rodent pests; after harvest, in some crops, deep ploughing is used to destroy nests and displace rodents. Removal of crop residues after harvest will cause rodents to look elsewhere for food and may be done in cereal crops by grazing livestock temporarily or by burning as noted in the case of sugarcane.
  • ·Dig a trap outside field and fill it with water to avoid rodents entering the field
  • ·Spray pepper extract on the leaves produced in the field, rodents’ wont’ eat them

If you’re unable to follow any of these measures there is a easier way out: plant the seeds in a seedling tray and once they are a week and half old, plant them on the filed.  Do take care to surround the seedling tray with thorny bush to keep away rodents.

Farming Ideas

Farming ideas I picked from newspapers which can be of great help to farmers

Last week I was in Dharwad along with my city bred kids visiting my mother-in-law. Dharwad does strange things to me. For it was here that I was introduced to the world of farming, thanks to my father in law: Dr S N Kadapa, a plant geneticist of international repute who specialized on cotton varieties. In fact, my two daughters have a cotton variety named after them.

Dr Kadapa, an affable man with a smile for everyone interacted with academicians, researchers and farmers at their own levels. Never giving the other opportunity to feel that the other was less knowledgeable than him. In fact, he took self-abnegation to a different level. I often visited his research station at Dharwad Agriculture University and marvelled at the patience, perseverance and dogged determination of plant scientists: for it takes years to develop a hybrid. By the time I has enough savings and bought a piece of agricultural land Dr Kadapa was no more. Had he been around I could have always approached him for solutions to my problems related to farming.

I either approach different forums related to agriculture or check out columns in newspapers like The Hindu or Deccan Herald. In my present I dug the old issue of DH, my mother-in-law had preserved for me. In this post I am sharing the information I picked up and which could be helpful to a novice farmer.

  • N R Chandrasekhar of Nenamanahalli in Kolar district (Karnataka) has built 50 pits which can store 900 lts of water totaling 45,000 lts. So that not a single drop of rainwater leaves the land. He says that the crop won’t be affected if it doesn’t rain for a month, with the percolated water underground taking care of the crops. Besides he has sown horse gram whose green canopy will stop evaporation. Earlier, he had grown ragi and when it rained he sowed jute. These have mulched and in the process created six to eight tonnes of leafy manure.
  • red banana

    Suraj Patil of Kamlapur in Gulbarga district of Karnataka has revived the famed red bananas which sells for Rs 100 a dozen in Bangalore and Mumbai. Red banana has been registered under Geographical Indication registry. Plantation starts in June to August and requires a large quantity of compost. The cost of farming is Rs 50,000 per care and the income generated is around Rs three lakh per acre.  Red banana plants grow too tall and storms or heavy rain could fell the plant.

  • Toobugere in Doddaballapur taluka in Karnataka has the country’s only Jackfruit Growers’ Association. Most jackfruit plants are planted on the borders of the plot which begins fruiting from the seventh year onwards.
  • Eshwar Prasad of Puttur in Dakshina Kannada has grown paddy on areca peel in front of his farmhouse. He took care of the pest by spraying a mixture of garlic juice and asafoetida. Having tasted success he plans to sow a short grained variety of paddy next year.

2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Fresher than ever.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 3,200 times in 2010. That’s about 8 full 747s.


In 2010, there were 44 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 47 posts. There were 62 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 12mb. That’s about 1 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was April 7th with 87 views. The most popular post that day was Educating farmers.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were,,,, and

Some visitors came searching, mostly for dates, moringa tree, date palms, champa, and champa flower.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


Educating farmers April 2010


Money in dates July 2010


Fastest Growing Timber August 2010


Money in Palm Trees March 2010


Hope for Dengue victims October 2010