TIRUVANNAMALAI: Entomologists attached to the Tamil Nadu Agriculture University (TNAU) have launched a research programme to study the fall army worm (FAW) attack on maize and effective ways to control the invasive pest infestation in the state.
The team comprising Dr K Prabakar, director of Centre for Plant Protection Study, TNAU, Dr N Sathaiah, principal investigator and nodal scientist, and Dr N Muthukrishnan, principal of Agricultural College and Research Institute, Vazhavachanur, Tiruvannamalai, began the research at Perumanam village in Tiruvannamalai district.
“The programme is to exclusively work on various management strategies for fall army worm and demonstrating the spray pattern to farmers,” Muthukrishan told The New Indian Express.
A drone was used to spray the pesticide on maize infested with FAW during the demonstration on Saturday.
He noted, “The focus of preliminary research activity is to see the effectiveness of two different nozzles in the delivery of spray fluid to study the spray pattern, fluid deposit size and pattern of deposition.”
About 1500 maize plants have been tagged to make continuous observations which will focus on 20-25-day-old plants and 40-45-day-old plants, he added.
The key to control the invasive pest lies in ensuring the pesticide reaches the leaf holes as the FAW gets entrenched into the holes. If the pesticide does not get into the target area, it will be of poor effectiveness. The pests remain on the leaf in the initial days before getting down into the leaf holes.
The expert team will also study the effect of the fluid delivered through drones on FAW and beneficial insects and compare the method with conventional spraying by farmers and consoled droplet applicator and electrodyne sprayer.
The agriculture department has allocated Rs 5 crore for a preliminary research programme which will also look into ways to make the drone spraying method cost effective.
Officials of TNAU and the Tamil Nadu Agriculture department have been holding awareness programmes for farmers raising maize on early detection and control of the pest which dealt a big blow two years ago in the state.