Crops should be protected with organic mulching and water-efficient micro-irrigation practices
Kerala Agricultural University (KAU) has issued an advisory on the measures to be adopted in the agricultural sector in view of severe drought situation in the State.
The unprecedented rise in atmospheric temperature and the fact that soil temperature will be higher than atmospheric mercury level have made drought-mitigation measures imperative, according to KAU scientists.
The university has urged farmers to protect their crops with organic mulching and water-efficient micro-irrigation practices, and by avoiding chemical fertilizers and pesticides unless the situation warrants it.
The advisory explains the drought mitigation measures to be adopted for different crops such as paddy, coconut, vegetables, areca nut, nutmeg, banana, and pepper.
In view of the possible pest infestations (for example, bacterial wilt and brown plant hopper attack in paddy, whitefly and eriofid mite in coconut, aphid in banana, leafspot and dieback in nutmeg, etc.) during the drought, remedial measures have been spelt out.
The KAU has proposed minimal use of water, ensuring maximum efficiency.
In case of transplanted paddy fields, there is no need to sustain water level after one week of planting, Instead, mild irrigation at short intervals would be better.
Dry sowing is a better option in fields with lesser irrigation facilities.
Watering tree crops and vegetable crops from 12 noon to 3 p.m. and use of chemical fertilizers during the period should be avoided. Ploughing coconut gardens and sowing pulse crops after summer rains will help drought mitigation.
Neem oil emulsion
Spraying neem oil emulsion will help overcome whitefly attack.
Burying dried or fresh husks around the palm and applying lime solution up to two metres on trunk are other the steps suggested for coconut.
The detailed advisory has been hosted on the university website (www.kau.in) for ready reference, according to a press release from the KAU on Friday.