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Integrated Pest Management In Coconut - Recent Technological Developments

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a pest population management system utilizing all suitable technologies in a compatible manner to maintain the pest population below the economic injury level. IPM is a holistic approach to mmimize the pest impact to maintain the balance of the ecosystem. Coconut palms in homestead gardens and plantations are infested by several pests. Damage by pests' accounts for heavy crop loss every year in all coconut growing countries. In India, rhinoceros beetle (Oryctes rhinocerosL ), red palm v/QQvil (Rhynchophorus ferruginous Fab.), leaf eating caterpillar (Opisina arenosella Wlk.) and white grub (Leucopholis coneophora Burn) are the major pests distributed widely in all coconut growing tracts. Minor pests include slug caterpillars, scale insects, mealy bugs, cored bug, termites and mites. Constantly changing cropping systems and adoption of agrotechnologies for higher productivity without looking into ecological balance of the nature result in instability in biotic and abiotic components of the ecosystem. Such disruptions have created instances of minor pests emerging as major pests and also in large-scale spread of major pests in newer areas. The emergence of cored bug (Paradasynus rostratus Dist.) in many part of Kerala, mealy bugs and scale insects in parts of Tamil Nadu and Kerala and widespread occurrence of leaf eating caterpillar in the intenor parts of peninsular India warrant need for an IPM approach for coconut. IPM strategies have been developed for combating major pests. For the management of rhinoceros beetle an IPM schedule compnsmg mechanical, cultural, chemical and biological methods is recommended. This includes extraction of beetles during peak period of pest emergence, disposal of all possible breeding grounds of the beetle and prophylactic leaf axilfilling of palms with insecticide and sand mixture of with naphthalene balls. Two potential biocontrol agents viz. A virus (Oryctes baculovirus) and a fungus (Metarhizium anisopliae) play vital role in the biological suppression of the pest. Since the leaf eating caterpillar support a rich fauna of parasitoids and predators the IPM package has a strong orientation towards use of biocontrol agents. In cases of epidemic outbreak of this pest, an IPM schedule involving mechanical methods of cutting and burning the badly infested leaves, spraying of crown with a low residual insecticide and subsequent release of appropriate parasitoids is recommended. The IPM method employed for management of red palm weevil includes field and plant sanitation, prophylactic leaf axil filling with insecticide sand mixture, curative treatment with endosulfan, prevention of pest entry by avoiding injuries on the pahn and using attractant traps. The management of white grub is achieved by an integrated approach involving cultural operations to expose the pest, collection and destruction of the adult beetles during their emergence, manipulation of intercrops as trap crops and by judicious application of a soil insecticide like phonate. The IPM technology has defined advantage over the conventional management strategies. It is economical, eco-ffiendly and more feasible in a sustainable agro-ecosystem.

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