The Punjab agriculture department has started a campaign to educate farmers on aphid attack on the wheat crop in the initial stage across the state. According to the department, the motive of the campaign is to reduce unnecessary use of insecticide as well as to ensure healthy crop in future.
Mangal Singh Sandhu, director of the department of agriculture, Punjab, told Hindustan Times that agriculture officials go to fields nowadays under the supervision of agriculture experts and are urging farmers for adoption of improved technology along with improved agronomic strategies, which will help enhance the crop productivity.
As per agriculture experts, "In March, when the wheat crop is in the earhead stage, every field should be monitored on a regular basis to detect specific pests. A thorough monitoring and insect identification are essential, which help reduce input costs and crop yield loss. With an adequate monitoring programme to establish presence of insect-pest species and to monitor changes in population densities, farmers are more likely to be aware of potential problems."
Agriculture development officer Jaswinder Singh Brar organised the field day programme "Economic threshold level of aphid on wheat crop" to educate farmers of Chrik village about the economic threshold level of aphid on the wheat crop. He said there was not any serious attack of aphids on the wheat crop in the district, but farmers should inspect their fields twice a week and record the aphid population from 10 randomly selected earheads in each of the four quarters of 1 acre field. "If five or more aphid attacks per earhead are observed, farmers should spray recommended insecticides to control aphid on wheat crop," he added.
Agriculture experts say the high population of aphids at the earhead stage can cause substantial loss in the yield. They suggested that the aphid attack starts from the periphery of the field, particularly from the side on which trees are present. Farmers are advised to spray insecticide only on the infected strip to check further spread of aphids.
Brar explained to the progressive farmers that aphids were soft-bodied, green to blackish-green louse-like insects. "These are found in small colonies on leaves and earheads. Aphids develop colonies on leaves, leaf sheath, flag leaf and in the spikelets of the earheads. Due to heavy feeding by aphids, the grains do not develop and remain shrivelled. The aphids also excrete honeydew on which black sooty mould develops that hinders photosynthesis activity of leaves. Both nymphs and adults suck the sap from the leaves and maturing grains," he said.
Deputy commissioner Arshdeep Singh Thind said, "Farmers are advised to purchase recommended insecticides from reliable sources through proper billing. I have also ordered to the Moga chief agriculture officer to organise farmer camps at village and block-level for reducing pesticide and insecticide spray on the wheat crop."