agriculture

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) in the Cultivation of Coconut

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) in the Cultivation of Coconut

In response to the ever-increasing use of pesticides that ultimately caused crises in pest management (serious outbreaks of secondary pests and the possibility of pest resurgence following the development of pesticide resistance) and a general increase in evidence and awareness of the full costs to reasonable human health as well as an environment, integrated pest management (IPM) was first developed as part of coconut farming.

IPM carefully considers all of the many types of pest control methods currently available and then incorporates appropriate measures that can effectively suppress the growth of pest populations. In addition, it integrates a range of biological, chemical, and physical management techniques as part of crop-specific practices to promote healthy crop growth and reduce the need for pesticides. This helps to reduce or properly minimize the threats that such pesticides pose to the environment and human health. A holistic approach encourages coconut farmers or coconut farms to explore and apply a wide range of the best available pest management methods, as this is a dynamic process that tends to utilize existing ecological processes. In terms of its relevance, it can increase the economic, environmental, and social levels. In terms of its relevance, this can raise the economic, environmental, and social levels.

The Role of IPM in sustainable agriculture and coconut farming

Coconut farmers are keen on ensuring that there is a significant amount of focus on the overall health of the crop which will reflect on the yield in general. It is capable of affecting the annual harvest capacity and this is what drives the coconuts plantings forward. The role that IPM plays is very significant and vital in the following ways:

Applies sustainable pest control. IPM can help to build on ecosystem services such as pest predation which is aimed at protecting others, such as the pollination process. It also helps to contribute towards the increase in farm productivity as well as food availability by reducing pre and post-harvest crop losses. 

‚󏬆 ¬† ¬†¬†Reduces pesticide residues. IPM usually contributes to food as well as water safety, by reducing the number of pesticides that are used in turn to help reduce the overall residues in food, feed as well as fibre, and as a whole, the environment.

‚󏬆 ¬† ¬†¬†Elevate ecosystem services. IPM generally seeks to effectively maintain the national crop ecosystem balance. It looks to conserve the underlying natural resource base while enhancing ecosystem services. This includes processes such as pollination, healthy soils, and the overall diversity of species).¬†

‚󏬆 ¬† ¬†¬†Boost income levels. IPM is keen to reduce the overall production costs through a strict reduction in the overall levels of pesticide use in coconut farms. Higher-quality crops can also command much better prices in the existing markets and then contribute to increased farmer profitability.¬†

‚󏬆 ¬† ¬†¬†Upgrade farmer knowledge. IPM is also a key player in promoting farmer stewardship which helps to increase the farmer's knowledge of the existing ecosystem functioning which can be adapted to their local context.¬†¬†

IPM can also be applied when managing all different kinds of pests in coconut farms. This includes insects, weeds, various forms of diseases as well as vertebrate pests. Some of them are ground squirrels and pigeons. It integrates overall prevention practices, cultural practices, as well as mechanical or physical pest controls as well as biological pest controls. Chemical pest control methods are also included in coconut plantations which are effective in preventing and suppressing pests. The actual goal of IPM is solely focused on reducing all the adverse impacts of pest control on human health, the actual environment as well as non-target organisms, while also managing pests effectively.                                                                                                                 

Ecological engineering for pest management ‚Äď Above ground:¬†Coconut farming¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†

‚óŹ Increase the overall effect on the flowering plants and make them compatible with all the cash crops that come along with plantation borders that are aimed at arranging shorter plants towards the main crop along with taller plants towards the coconut farm boundary. In this way, they can attract natural enemies and effectively avoid the pest population.

‚óŹ Ideally, grow flowering plants that act as internal bundles in a coconut plantation.

‚óŹ There is no need to pull out weeds that generally grow naturally, such as Tridax procumbens and Ageratum sp, Alternanthera.

‚óŹ In particular, do not apply any form of broad-spectrum chemical pesticide if the actual P:D ratio is close to favourable. General plant compensation should also be considered before starting to apply chemical pesticides.

Ecological Engineering for IMP ‚Äď Underground: Coconut Cultivation

The key is to keep the soil covered with sufficient live vegetation and/or plant debris throughout the year.

‚óŹ Go ahead and add organic matter in the form of farmyard manure (FYM). And that in the form of vermicompost and also plant residues, which can effectively strengthen all underground biodiversity.¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†¬†

‚óŹ Look towards reducing the tillage intensity so that there can be better hibernating of all the natural enemies.

‚óŹ Aim to apply a balanced dose of nutrients that can be as simple as using biofertilizers.¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†

‚óŹ Also, apply adequate amounts of mycorrhiza as well as several plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria (PGPR)

‚óŹ Biopesticides that are produced by coconut farmers for their consumption in their fields are not required to be registered.

Due to the enhancement of the biodiversity process, predator numbers are also said to increase largely in number. Some of the major predators that are widely available are a long range of spiders, ladybird beetles, popular long-horned grasshoppers, earwigs, etc.

Crop stage-wise IPM in coconut farms

The nursery stage in most coconut farms tends to be the most versatile stage that can allow for the coconut plantations to be fully integrated with all the right forms of pest management. This is also the initial stage that gives the farmers good enough leverage to take just about absolute caution right away. Some of the common practices for this include                                  

Common cultural practices: 

By selecting a good mother palm in the coconut palm plant, you can obtain seedlings that might take about 20 years to age and yield more than 80 nuts per year. For this, the farmers focusing on coconut plantations need to:

‚óŹ Provide proper shade, irrigation methods & drainage.¬†

‚óŹ Rogue out all the diseased seedlings.

‚óŹ Employ well-sourced and locally-made rat traps.¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†¬†

‚óŹ Use adequate resistant/tolerant varieties.¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†¬†

‚óŹ Sow the right kind of ecological engineering plants.

‚óŹ Removal and destruction of any alternate host weeds.¬†

Weed:                                                

Weeda can be a real problem in most coconut plantations as it can completely affect the entire crop and its yield. That is why farmers are keen to keep weeds out right from the initial stage itself. This includes the processes such as hand weeding which is to manually remove the weeds from the coconut farms or timely mulching. 

Nematodes: 

This is a problem that arises in most coconut farms and needs vital attention as it is crucial to be taken care of. If left unattended, the nematodes can largely populate the coconut farms and destroy the crops altogether. Some of the control methods include:                        

Cultural control:

‚óŹ Use of really less susceptible as well as highly tolerant cultivars or even hybrids of the coconut seeds and intercrops in all the infested areas.¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ‚óŹ Avoid the regular use of bananas as shade crops in the affected coconut nurseries or coconut farms.

Biological control:                                                                                                  

‚óŹ Application of regular cow dung, FYM as well as oil cakes to the basins.
‚óŹ Crotalaria juncea may also be cultivated in the existing basin as well as the interspaces. These can also be used as green manure.¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ‚óŹ Incorporation of the leaves along with the tender stem of the Crotolaria juncea, into the soil right from September to October itself.¬†

Usually, in the pre-planting stage, it is mandatory to have a focused weed management plan that can help reduce the damage done by the pests on the crop in the coconut farms. Some of the control methods in this stage include

Cultural control:                                 

‚óŹ Preparation of proper pits.

‚óŹ Timely planting

‚óŹ Maintenance of proper spacing.

‚óŹ Filling the pit with FYM, red earth, or sand mixture.¬†

 Soil-borne pathogens, wilt, nematodes, and resting stages of insect pests: This stage is crucial for the farmers as the coconut plantings are highly susceptible to contracting pests at this stage with a possibility of soil-borne pathogens that can come in any form to the coconut farms. If this occurs then the farmers usually focus on:

Cultural control:                                                     

‚óŹ Deep ploughing of all the fields during summer.¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†

‚óŹ Early sowing methods of the crop can on the whole prevent it from any nematode infestation.

‚óŹ Liming the soil to the right pH levels of 6.0-7.0, as well as focusing on reducing the nitrogen levels in the soil. This can significantly help to reduce any possibility of wilt.¬†

The growth stage is very crucial for the coconut palm plants as it is focused on ensuring that the coconut planting does not get restricted from its yield capacity due to a sudden or unforeseen intervention from harmful pests.      

Common cultural practices:

Provide timely and adequate irrigation steps, apply organic manure and fertilizer as per the recommended dose, and focus on drainage, weeding techniques as well as mulching from time to time.                                                         

Common mechanical practices:                                                           

‚óŹ It is crucial to set up light traps that follow the first rains that generally come in summer as well as the monsoon period to help attract and kill any type of adult beetles from infesting the coconut farms.

‚óŹ Cut and burn all the disease-affected portions of the coconut palm plants as well as the wilted palms and most of the dead palms.

Common biological practices:

‚óŹ Conserve all the natural enemies through adequate ecological engineering.¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ‚óŹ Augmentative release of the natural enemies

The nutrients for ensuring this is also required to facilitate the better implementation of healthy IPM techniques. At this stage of the process, the coconut palm plants that are affected need to be sprayed with 50 Kg FYM,1 Kg gypsum, 0.52 Kg N /acre, 2 Kg SSP/ 3.5 Kg MOP, & 50 g of Borax.

 Rhinoceros beetle and cock chafer beetle: This is a very common infestation and one that can severally affect the coconut plantations if left unchecked. It needs to be taken care of in the initial stage itself as it can go up to affect the yield of the crop over time and kill the crop in total. Some of the ways to curb this infestation include

Cultural control:

Aim to collect and destroy all the various life stages of the beetle from the actual manure pits where they tend to breed. This is whenever the manure is lifted from the pits.                                                                   

Mechanical control:                                                          

‚óŹ During the peak period of their population build-up, most of the adult beetle may even be extracted from the palm crown with the use of GI hooks.

‚óŹ Farmers will need to install aggregation of proper pheromone traps that are away from the main coconut plantation.

Biological control:

‚óŹ With the timely release of the¬†Baculovirus oryctes¬†most adult rhinoceros beetles can be reduced in the leaf and crown with its damage.
‚óŹ Soak castor cake of about 1 Kg in 5 l of water within small mud pots and have them kept in the coconut gardens. This will help to attract and kill adult beetles.¬† ¬† ‚óŹ Apply a good mixture of either neem seed powder as well as sand (1: 2) @ 150 g of the infested coconut palm plants or add some neem seed kernel powder with¬† sand (1: 2) @ 150 g in the actual base of about 3 innermost leaves up until the crown.¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†

Palm civet, Black rat, Indian gerbil, The lesser bandicoot:

Rodent damage is very common on tender nuts as it is largely aimed at forming characteristic holes in the coconut planting. This leads to the coconut tree shedding its nuts which can be seen at the feet of the palm.

Cultural control:                                                               

‚óŹ Always practice clean cultivation techniques and maintain an ideal weed-free field. This will help to reduce the harbouring or possible hiding of rodents.

‚óŹ Practice trapping with the existing locally available traps that can help at using lure rodents within the acre. So about 8-10 traps/acre would be ideal. In areas where there is the problem of¬†Rattus rattus¬†place wonder traps/multi-catch traps which can work better towards enabling more animals into a single trap.

‚óŹ Identify all the live rodent burrows and add smoke to the burrows with the help of a burrow smoker for about 2-3 minutes¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†¬†

Chemical control:           

‚óŹ In cases of any high level of infestation, follow the practice of poison baiting with the use of zinc phosphide @ 2.0% which is also the community approach.

‚óŹ Practice the technique of pre-baiting to help avoid bait shyness as well.¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†¬†

While pest control is key and crucial, it is also essential to focus on the proper management and use of insecticides in general throughout the entire coconut farm and how the crop can be resistant to its effects. This is also a key aspect of Integrating pest control and management into the coconut plantation process and in the overall coconut farming methodology.