‘Soil solarisation essential for preventing plant diseases’

  • Rameshinder Singh Sandhu, Hindustan Times, Ludhiana
  • Updated: Jul 24, 2014 14:29 IST

Experts from the department of fruit science of Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) said on Tuesday that favourable growth of orchards in the upcoming Kinnow plantation season would depend on the kind of nurseries the plants were bought from and how they were groomed there.

Experts said a plant would suffer from various diseases while maturing in an orchard if it had not been made diseasefree by following scientific procedures.

“For every nursery that sells Kinnow saplings, it is vital to plant the saplings in solarised soil as this soil will be free from any soil-borne diseases. At PAU, we regularly solarise the soil,” explained Anirudh Thakur, assistant professor in the department of fruit science.

He stated that if one failed to solarise the soil, certain root diseases could be transmitted through non-treated soil.

Explaining the process of soil solarisation, Thakur said the quantity of soil that a nursery owner wanted to solarise should first be placed on a cemented floor and then kept covered for about three weeks with a plastic sheet, which would bring the desired results.

He also showcased two covered sheds, made with special steel, into which sunlight could enter, but insects could not.

One of the two sheds had thousands of saplings and the other had matured Kinnow trees, which was the ‘mother block’. With the help of the mother block and through a process called ‘budding’, experts give birth to saplings, explained Thakur.

During an interaction with senior horticulturist HS Rattanpal from the fruit science department, Thakur said each year, the university performed molecular diagnosis on plants to check if they were suffering from any diseases.

“Using a regular spray is another effort to keep the diseases at bay,” he said.

When asked if regular nurseries follow similar procedures, Rattanpal said, “Such procedures are followed rarely by regular nurseries due to which Kinnow orchards are on the decline in the state. This is why we stress each year that the origin of the plant matters the most.”

He informed that in many cases, farmers bought saplings in bulk and within a few years, they would suffer from diseases.

He stated that sometimes, the plant would not even display its usual characteristics. “This happens when the saplings are bought from a nursery that has failed to follow scientific procedures,” he said.

Rattanpal added, “Along with solarisation, keeping them in covered sheds and having a personal mother block is a must.”

Director of research, PAU, SS Gosal, said anyone wanting to have a Kinnow orchard must remember that healthy plants would only lead to a healthy orchard.

Sources from the department revealed that every year, the varsity distributed about 30,000 Kinnow saplings at nominal prices to famers across the state.

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