Saturday, 7 September 2013

Managing nematode infestation in banana

The Hindu
Managing nematode infestation in banana

Nematode infestation is one of the major limiting factors in banana production. Burrowing nematode, root-lesion nematode, spiral nematode and root-knot nematode are the major nematodes associated with banana.

These cause extensive root and corm damage leading to 20-50 per cent fruit yield loss. Commercial banana cultivars like Nendran, Robusta, Grand Naine, Ney Poovan, Poovan and Rasthali are often infested by these nematodes.

Dark lesions

The nematodes penetrate the roots and destroy the plant cells. This leads to dark lesion on root surface. Under severe infestation the root turns black. These nematodes can migrate from infected roots to other parts of the plant.

Adult females lay 200-300 eggs. They damage the xylem vessel and affect the uptake of water and nutrients.

Research on nematode management in banana is in progress for more than three decades through All India Co-ordinated Project on Tropical Fruits (AICRP-TF) at the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU), Coimbatore. The following are some management options that help to overcome the infestation.

Summer ploughing and exposing the soil to sunlight prior to planting for about two months. Selection of healthy sucker from nematode-free plants.

Grow marigold

Growing Sunhemp or marigold in and around the basin of plants during early stages of crop and incorporating their biomass one month later can reduce nematode build up.

Press mud application at rate of 15 tonnes per ha (5 kg/pit) or neem cake 1.5 tonnes per ha (500 g/pit) during planting can also help to avoid nematode build up.

Application of farm-yard manure at 10 kg per plant 60 days after planting. — Rotating banana with paddy.

Application of Pseudomonas fluorescens liquid formulation at 4 lit/ha at two, four and six months after planting through drip system will help.

(E.I. Jonathan, Prof and Head, Department of Fruit Crops and N. Sreenivasan, Assistant Prof, department of Nematology, TNAU. email: and, phone: 09865724277.)

Building soil with cover crops great way to wrap up fall garden

Building soil with cover crops great way to wrap up fall garden
Cover crops like clover can be used in small-scale gardening to enrich your soil once your summer crops have been harvested.

• Start now, and your cover crop should be the right size before freeze-up

By Carey Restino
Homer Tribune

My friend recently put in a new garden; a huge, 2,000-square foot expanse of fresh soil in the way only Alaska soil can be fresh — chickweed and nettles springing up between root wads. You can almost hear it screaming for lime as you walk over it.

Since he didn’t have much time this season to do more than throw some manure around, my friend  wondered what he could do to encourage better soil and get a jump on next year’s season. Getting his hands on that much compost was out of the question, as it is for most of us who guard our small pile of hard-won compost for our most needy plants.

Photo provided - Cover crops like clover can be used in small-scale gardening to enrich your soil once your summer crops have been harvested. 

The answer was clear – cover crops. The idea of a cover crop is beautiful. You plant something that would otherwise be a weed — clover, for example, and then turn the plant into the soil before it goes to seed. The plants add wonderful things to the soil, depending on what you choose and act as a green manure of sorts, enriching the land and encouraging all the good activity in your soil that you want for healthy, thriving plants in the coming year.

If you jump on it, a cover crop planted now will germinate and grow to just about the right size before freeze-up.

Cover crops don’t take a lot of work to plant. Throw some seed around, rake it in if you need to protect the seed from birds, and if your soil is really dry, water. When the plants get to the flowering stage, but before they set seed, mow them and till them in or turn them over right into the soil so the green plants decompose into your garden, enriching the soil, and in the case of some cover crops, fixing nitrogen levels.

While a large garden created in the fall is a perfect opportunity for a cover crop, you can also weave them into your succession plantings in your garden once you get the hang of it.

After your first plot of lettuce is harvested, planting a block of field peas and oats can reinvigorate the soil. Some people have even experimented with planting cover crops underneath other plants, such as corn, though the danger of increasing moisture content in our easy-to-mold area is a concern.

While a few cover crops, such as clover, are available locally, a much wider selection is available online. Armed with a soil test to tell you what your soil needs are, you can select from a wide variety.

Rye is a good contender for our cool falls, but must be carefully watched to make sure it doesn’t go to seed, or you will be pulling it out of your carrot patch for years to come. You can sow it in early fall and it will germinate, be dormant through the winter and begin growing again in the spring, according to my readings. Field peas and oats fix nitrogen and add to your soil’s loam.
Clover fixes nitrogen and helps build rich soils and germinates quickly. Others include sorghum-sungrass and buckwheat. Johnny’s Selected Seeds as well as other seed companies have a complete list of cover crops available and lots of information on the soil-enriching properties of each.

Cover crops can also serve to loosen compacted soil, especially if you have a new garden like my friend’s, which was recently run over by large machinery. Since the ground will be covered, weeds will be suppressed by your cover crop and once the crop is turned into your soil, it will increase the amount of organic matter in your ground. Cover crops also raise the pH of acidic soil — pretty much a given in this state.

Since temperatures are starting to drop — one friend reported a frost up on Skyline last week, sending his cyber-world friends into a tizzy — it might be a good idea to lay some plastic over the ground where you are seeding a cover crop to warm the soil and speed germination. Take it off once the crop has sprouted.

Another word to the wise: consider using a gentle method to turn your cover crop over rather than renting the biggest tiller you can buy and going for it. With new soil, every worm is precious and using a broadfork or other means for turning over your soil is highly recommended if possible. While it’s very satisfying to see the cleanly tilled soil, everyone who has dug into a pile of compost knows that lightly disturbed soil is happiest.

It’s not a bad idea to vary your cover crops from season to season, experimenting with different ones to see what works best and adding variety to your soil.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Goat: Man's first domesticated animal

By Henrylito D. Tacio
Sun Star 
Goat: Man's first domesticated animal

IN INTRODUCING his book, Goat Husbandry, author David MacKenzie wrote: "When man began his farming operations in the dawn of history, the goat was the kingpin of the personal life, making possible the conquest of desert and mountain and the occupation of the fertile land that lay beyond. The first of Man's domestic animals to colonize the wilderness, the goat is the last to abandon the deserts that man leaves behind him."

MacKenzie further wrote: "Forever the friend of the pioneer and the last survivor, the goat was never well loved by arable farmers on fertile land. When agriculture produces crops that man, cow and sheep can consume with more profit, the goat retreats to the mountain tops and the wilderness, rejected and despised – hated too, as the emblem of anarchy."

Goats are considered the first hoofed animals ever tamed. In the Biblical town of Jericho, people kept tame goats as long as 6,000 or 7,000 years before Christ.

The ancient Greeks and Romans paid great attention to the rearing of goats. Anyone at all familiar with classical authors will remember how frequently these animals are mentioned, especially in pastoral poems.

In the Philippines, more and more people are now raising goats, in their farms, in their backyards, and even in their ranches.

"We have been raising goats since the early 1970s and we have observed that the demand for the animal has been growing," admitted Roy C. Alimoane, the current director of the Mindanao Baptist Rural Life Center (MBRLC) Foundation, Inc. MBRLC is a non-government organization based in the southern part of the Philippines.

Just like cows, goat is valued mainly for its meat and milk. "As a milk producer, the goat is inevitably more efficient where the available fodder is of such low quality that a cow can barely live," MacKenzie wrote in his book.

"Indeed, I find among the writers, that the milk of the goat is next in estimation to a woman; for it helpeth the stomach, removeth oppilations and stoppings of the liver and looseth the belly," William Harrison wrote, echoing the opinion of 2,000 years of medical writing.

Hippocrates commended the virtues of goats’ milk and, according to Homer, some of the gods and goddesses themselves were reared on it.

There is probably no other animal, except dog, that has a greater variety of range than the goat. "It is met with in most parts of the world, and appears as much at home in the cold regions of Norway and Sweden as in the hot countries of Asia and Africa," noted H.S. Holmes Pegler in The Book of the Goat.

The different roles of trees and shrubs

The different roles of trees and shrubs