The cotton and paddy crops, which have been sown on a major area in the district, have come under the attack of sucking insects and leaf folder bugs, respectively. The cotton crop has been largely affected by white fly, a sucking pest, besides aphid and jassid to some extent. As most farmers have grown Bt cotton, the crop is resistant to some bollworms, but sucking insects are the main cause of worry for them.
The attack of white fly on cotton is making farmers spray insecticides of their choice or as recommended by insecticide dealers or retailers. Most farmers do not have much awareness about the crop-related problems though they have been traditionally doing agriculture for years. They can be seen seeking so-called expert advice from agents of private pesticides companies, who are appointed for sales promotion, and shopkeepers, who allegedly mislead farmers on applying insecticides in excess or in combination.
"As for white fly is concerned, it reaches the adult stage unnoticed by farmers. It has to be detected and controlled at the nymph (first) stage. But during that stage, it usually goes unnoticed because it cannot be seen by naked eye and is found backside of leaves," said Baljinder Singh Brar, block agriculture officer, Kotkapura.
At the initial stage, white fly can be controlled by spraying Trizophos 40 EC 600 ml per acre or Ethion 50 EC 800 per acre, he adds. However, farmers only notice the attack of sucking pests when it is too late.
According to agriculture experts, at later stage of the attack, farmers can use some insecticides, but by then the number of white flies per plant become too many and there are chances that if a specific cotton field is sprayed with insecticide the insect might fly to the adjoining fields.
Brar also attributes the insect attack to the sudden change to cloudy weather after the dry spell.
"The attack of the leaf folder bug on paddy was also seen in some fields, but it is under control. We advise farmers to inspect their fields daily or at least on alternate day and use chemicals only if the attack is severe or has crossed the economic threshold level (ETL)," said Sukhwant Singh Sran, chief agriculture officer Faridkot.
"Sucking insects on cotton have become the main problem for us. I have sprayed insecticide 4 to 5 times on my cotton fields to control the attack, but to no avail," claims Sukha, a farmer from Niamiwala village of Kotkapura block, who has sown cotton on about 5 acres.
Owing to lack of awareness, farmers are using even double or triple dosages of many insecticides, thereby polluting the environment. But agriculture experts term it useless and wasteful expenditure. "Increasing the dosages or using non-recommended combinations results in financial loss and damages environment. But many farmers tend to ignore the advice of agriculture experts," said Sukhwant Singh Srar, CAO.
About using fungicides by farmers on paddy, Baljinder Singh Brar cautions, "Though no fungal attack is seen on paddy, farmers must understand that the diseases should be treated before the severe attack, while insects should be controlled after the attack. But mostly farmers do the contrary."