“Decrease in problems in pomegranate production”
Problems with pomegranate
In June 2007, Bhagat started cultivating the Bhagwa variety of pomegranates, for which he used the method of air layering graft (guti kalam) for pomegranate, purchased from a private nursery. He kept a space of 11×10 feet between each plant. He harvested the third crop in 2012-13, but the plants were heavily infected with wilt disease, oily stain disease, stem borer, stem flies, thread-worms etc. Insecticides and pesticides could not be sprayed at proper times for controlling the diseases, as farm labour was not available when needed. He was not really aware of integrated disease control methods. Improvement was also needed in the management of fertilizers and water. All of this resulted in a reduced yield as well as a poor quality of pomegranates than what was expected, compared to the efforts put in.
Guidance by scientists
There was no point in giving up hope and doing nothing. A solution had to be found. So, Bhagat contacted Dr. Milind Joshi, a specialist in crop protection at the Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) in Baramati. Dr. Joshi understood the problems, and decided to use technology developed by the Mahatma Phule Krishi Vidyapeeth in Bhagat’s farmland. Together with Bhagat, it was also decided to use the technology for ten other farmers on an experimental basis.
“If one wants to have a quality and satisfactory crop production, expert guidance and adoption of integrated crop management is a must. Mahesh Bhagat from Pune district has managed his pomegranate crop accordingly. He managed to decrease the problems faced earlier and succeed in having an excellent quality fruit production.” -Dr. Milind Joshi
Mahesh Bhagat is a farmer from Korhale Budruk, Tal., Baramati, Dist. Pune. He belongs to a middle-class family, which completely depends on agriculture for its livelihood. Out of his total farmland of 21 acres, two acres of land is arable land, and 19 acres are reserved for horticulture. He grows crops such as pomegranate, sugarcane, drum sticks, wheat, sorghum, and corn. The division is as follows: 3.5 acres for pomegranate, 10 acres for sugarcane, 1 acre for drumsticks, 3 acres for wheat, 0.5 acres for corn and 2.5 acres for jute. He gives equal importance to live stock, and thus has five cows (jersey), 6 goats, and 50 hens.
Main points in the use of the technology
- Bhagat’s main problem was the wilt disease. In 2010-11, 5 to 10, and in 2011-12, 20 to 25 of his pomegranate trees succumbed to this disease. Thread-worms are responsible for the spreading of this disease to some extent, so they had to be controlled. For biologically controlling thread-worms, Bhagat used the ‘friendly’ fungus Paecilomyces lilacinus in combination with dung manure, at eight kg per acre. For controlling stem borers and stem flies, granular insecticide was used. If chemical insecticides are used with no control, problems such as the spreading of secondary pests, increased resistance power in the pests, chemical remains, etc. occur and cause environmental and health damage. Therefore, the integrated insect-pest control method was used.
- As far as possible, organic fertilizers were used for growth of the crop. The use of bio-fertilizers proved important for reducing expenses on chemical fertilizers and retaining the soil productivity. Dung manure was used a lot. At the time of fruit formation, 9-10 tons of dung manure was applied per acre. There was livestock at home, which proved useful in providing the bio-fertilizers, such as cow urine (gomutra), slurry, hen manure, and grass fertilizers such as dhaincha, jute etc. While providing nutrients as needed, ingredients such as 18:46:00, Palash, micro-nutrients, iron, sulphur, humic acid, neem powder, etc. were used. About 10-12 spraying of micro-nutrients were carried out.
- Bhagat used drip irrigation on 19 acres of farmland. Water is provided to the farm by drip irrigation in the morning. The dripper has a capacity of 14 litres and the motor is generally operated for three hours. The amount of water is slightly increased after the buds are set.
Some points in Bhagat’s crop management
- Planning after considering the market
- Majority of the produce goes to outside states (Andhra Pradesh)
- Remaining produce sold in local markets after grading
- Sticky traps also used in addition to bio-fertilizers, pesticides
- Increasing use of biological slurry since 2011
- Particular attention to cleanliness in the garden
Balance sheet of pomegranate crop
Productivity of crop in recent years (per acre)
2010-11 … 5 tons
2011-12 …7 tons
2012-13 …12 tons
Production expenditure in 2012-13 – Rs. 1 lakh 65 thousand
Rate received per kg: Rs. 60 to 65 (average)
Market – Hyderabad (Andhra Pradesh)
Results of experiment
Integrated crop management resulted in increased yield, better quality, increased fruit size and attractive colour. Incidence of diseases such as wilt disease, oily stain disease was reduced. Reduction in production expenditure.
Decreased incidence of wilt disease (no. of trees)
2012-13 5-10 year of experiment
Fungi called Fusarium and Ceratocystis cause wilt disease in pomegranate crop. Stem borers, stem flies and threadworms spread this disease. If one follows the principle of prevention being better than cure (i.e. control), the use of the ‘friendly’ fungus Paecilomyces can prevent the spreading of the disease. In the biological control method, production cost remains low and fruit quality is improved to the point that export quality produce can be achieved.
In the annual scientific consultation meeting of the Krishi Vigyan Kendra (10th May 2013), chief scientist at the regional project directorate, Hyderabad, Dr. Rajendra Reddy inspected Bhagat’s pomegranate fruit. He praised him, saying that the size and weight of the fruit was excellent and that he would take the fruit with him and show it to the agricultural universities in Andhra Pradesh.