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Influence of Adjacent and Border Crops on the Incidence of Fall Armyworm Spodoptera frugiperda (J. E. Smith) (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) in Maize
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Methods: The present survey envisages the influence of adjacent and border crops on the incidence of fall armyworm in maize. The field incidence of fall armyworm in maize crop surrounded by other crops such as tapioca, nerium, cotton and maize fields with blackgram, cowpea and sesame as border crops were studied during kharif season of 2018 and 2019.
Result: The maize fields surrounded by tapioca and nerium crop recorded lower fall armyworm incidence (3.00 - 10.00%) followed by field surrounded by tapioca on either side of maize (4.50 - 14.50%) during 15 to 60 days after emergence. Growing of border crops such as blackgram, sesame and cowpea recorded 24.50, 23.50 and 16.50% incidence at 60 DAE, respectively. With regard to grain yield, no marked variation was observed in different crop combination. The higher return (Rs. 86040/ha) and benefit cost ratio (2.65) was observed in maize crop adjacent to tapioca and nerium crop. The lower net return (Rs. 75360/ha) and benefit cost ratio (2.36) was realized in maize crop adjacent to maize crop. In most of the management strategies pulses have been inducted either border or intercrop to attract natural enemies and thwart the host insects. In the present survey, tapioca and nerium crop combination reduces the fall armyworm incidence. Hence tapioca and nerium crop combinations can be tried as border crop to push the fall armyworm away from the maize crop. The days required for advanced planting and crop combinations should be studied in detail to devise effective fall armyworm management strategies.
The invasive fall armyworm incidence in Dharmapuri district was first noticed in Morappur block during May 2018 and from there it spread to all the maize growing area with 20-30% average yield loss in the district. Immediately after noticing the incidence of FAW on maize, farmers resorted to application of chemical insecticides for its management. Though chemical insecticides provided good control, cases of resistance have been reported against some insecticides (Yu, 1992; Al-Sarar et al. 2006). The dispersion pattern of fall armyworm to the lower canopy parts and inside the whorls makes the insecticide application a difficult task (Cook et al., 2004).
The management strategies involving growing of border and intercrops will be the best option to attract natural enemies and reduce incidence on main host crop. Many studies revealed that diversification at farm level resulted in an increased abundance of natural enemies and their improved effectiveness in managing insect pests (Harrison et al., 2019). Midega et al., 2018 revealed that push pull strategies can be integrated with other measures to control pests, including soil fertility management and habitat diversification at field level. The cropping pattern in Dharmapuri district is highly diversified and the farmers preferring to grow more number of crops across the seasons in their fields compared to other maize growing districts where diversified farming is less.
Conducting the preliminary survey will be useful to find out the suitable adjacent and border crop to reduce the incidence of fall armyworm in the maize crop. Hence, Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Dharmapuri has conducted an extensive survey to find out the effect of adjacent and border crops on the incidence of fall armyworm in the maize growing areas of the district.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
The recommended plant protection measures were practised by the farmers. The farmers usually apply emamectin benzoate 5% SG, flubendamide 39.35% SC, Spinosad 45% SC, chlorantraniliprole 18.5% SC and spinetoram 11.7% SC for the management of fall armyworm. Usually three sprays were done to manage the fall armyworm. The sprays were carried at 15-20 DAS, 30-35 DAS and 50-60 DAS period.
Observations on FAW incidence and natural enemies on maize were recorded at fortnightly intervals at 15, 30, 45 and 60 days after emergence. In each location, 20 plants were randomly selected and observed for the percentage damage of fall armyworm and natural enemies’ population. The observations were recorded before the insecticide spray. Field incidence on maize grown in contiguous fields was compared with incidence on maize surrounded by other crops. The data collected from the survey was converted in to percentage and subjected for simple mean comparison. Details of each field location, cultivar, season and local crop pattern are given in Table 1.
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
Growing of border crops such as blackgram, sesame and cowpea recorded 24.50, 23.50 and 16.50% incidence at 60 DAE, respectively. Tapioca, nerium, cotton and sorghum were grown three months, one year and one month earlier than the maize sowing in the adjacent fields. The height of nerium and tapioca was 2 m and 1 m respectively at the time of maize sowing in the respective fields. The emerging maize plants were effectively protected from fall armyworm by these two adjacent fields. One critical observation was that one side of the field which doesn’t have any adjacent crop recorded more damage than the other sides of the field.
The results of the natural enemies population showed that growing of cowpea and blackgram as border crop recorded more natural enemies populations compared to all other combinations (Table 3).
The maize and black gram combination recorded 12.00, 13.00, 10.00 and 11.50% natural enemies and cowpea combination recorded 13.50, 15.00, 13.50 and 12.00% natural enemies during 15, 30, 45 and 60 DAE respectively. The maize and gingelly combination recorded 10.00, 9.50, 7.00 and 9.00 % natural enemies at 15, 30, 45 and 60 DAE, respectively. Though tapioca and nerium as adjacent crops recorded less fall armyworm incidence, the natural enemies’ population was less. The tapioca and nerium on either side of maize field recorded more number of natural enemies compared to fields where tapioca alone served as adjacent crop. The cotton and maize adjacent crops recorded lower numbers of natural enemies population compared to other crop combinations. The crop canopy of black gram and gingelly attracts more number of natural enemies compared to other crop combinations in the study. Hailu et al., 2018 revealed that intercropping of maize with leguminous crops provided significant reduction of stem borers and fall armyworm compared to the mono cropped maize especially in the early growth phases and up to tasseling stage of maize.
Hailu et al., 2018 revealed that choice of companion crop, ratio of intercropping and time of sowing enhanced the fall armyworm control in maize. In the present investigation also the tapioca and Nerium are cultivated much earlier than maize sowing and thus favours the reduction in fall armyworm damage. Moreover, both are not preferred hosts for the FAW. In the climate adapted push pull strategy 82.7% reduction in average number of per plant and 86.7% in plant damage per plant were recorded compared to maize monocrop plots (Midega et al., 2018). The white African black pepper extract and beans push cropping systems were suggested as an effective alternative management measure against the fall armyworm (Tanyi et al., 2020). Whenever the choice of border or intercrop arises the researchers mostly focus on pulse crops whereas in the present survey tapioca and nerium are providing good control of fall armyworm as adjacent crops.
The results on the yield parameters indicated that maize grain yield was higher (76.8 q/ha) in maize crop adjacent to tapioca and nerium crop and it was followed by maize field adjacent to tapioca crop (76.2 q/ha) (Table 4).
The lower maize grain yield (72.7 q/ha) was recorded in the maize crop grown adjacent to maize crop. Though, considerable difference was not observed in grain yield, the net return (Rs. 86040/ha) and benefit cost ratio (2.65) was higher in maize crop adjacent to tapioca and nerium crop. The lower net return (Rs. 75360/ha) and benefit cost ratio (2.36) was realized in maize crop adjacent to maize crop. It might be due to the higher cost involved in managing the fall armyworm incidence in maize under maize crop adjacent to maize crop. Daizy Sarma et al., 2018 also reported that intercropping of mustard and cowpea in cabbage reduced the diamondback moth population and increased the yield of cabbage.
The tapioca and nerium along with other crop combinations can be tried for the effective fall armyworm management. The major concern will be the planting of tapioca setts or nerium seedlings in and around the maize crop much earlier than the maize sowing. The days required for advanced planting and crop combinations should be studied in detail to devise effective fall armyworm management strategies in the new invaded areas.
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