Largest field experiment of innovative “mating disruption” tech to ward off pink bollworm in cotton
In collaboration with Agrovision Foundation, SABC has laid out the country’s largest field experiment of an innovative mating disruption or mating confusion technology to ward off a devastating pest PBW in cotton. Project Bandhan involves the structured tagging of the PBKnot thread by trained local volunteers under the guidance of experts.
The South Asia Biotechnology Centre (SABC), Jodhpur has said in a press release that in collaboration with Agrovision Foundation, Nagpur, it has laid out the country’s largest field experiment of an innovative mating disruption or mating confusion technology to ward off a devastating pest pink bollworm (PBW) in cotton.
PBKnot is an innovative mating disruption technology approved recently by the Central Insecticide Board and Registration Committee (CIB&RC) of the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare. It is an ideal approach, the release says, for effective PBW management and a best fit in the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) of bollworm in cotton. Besides, the technology is easy to apply, safe for beneficial insects, and eco-friendly.
The first of its kind, Project Bandhan is a field experiment laid out over 300 acres in four clusters in the GPS-coordinated cotton fields in Waroda and Adasa villages in Kalmeshwar Taluka in Nagpur District of Maharashtra. It involves the structured tagging of the PBKnot thread by trained local volunteers under the guidance of experts from the SABC, Agrovision Foundation and ICAR-CICR. It will be studied for pest insect population dynamics, insect ecology and damage as part of an IPM approach of pink bollworm.
PBW is a mysterious pest that has hit cotton growers hard in Maharashtra in Kharif 2020-21. There has been a noticeable increase in PBW infestation in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh and recently in Northern cotton-growing belt. Though large scale Bt cotton cultivation provides inbuilt protection against notorious American bollworm (Helicoverpa armigera), the emergence of PBW has become the new enemy of cotton farmers. While Helicoverpa infestation resulted in definite yield loss, PBW infestation primarily affects the lint quality, though its early occurrence may even lead to a reduction in yield and significant losses.
“We have laid out the country’s largest field experiment by tagging cotton plants with PBKnot in such a way that PBKnot charges the surrounding air with Gossyplure, a pheromone scent that confuses the male adults preventing them from finding and mating with female adults and reduces the number of eggs laid and PBW population in subsequent generations. Interestingly, PBKnot releases the same scent that female PBW releases to attract males for mating,” explained Dr CD Mayee, President of SABC.
“Mating confusion — a disruptive pheromone-based technique — is now available in the form of the solid metric dispenser rope known as PBKnot and can be easily applied to the cotton plant at the pinhead square stage over the minimum area of 60 to 64 acres on a contiguous basis. The PBKnot can protect the cotton plant for 90 days in the crucial time of flowering, boll formation up to boll maturity and hence reduce boll damage, improve quality and increase cotton yield”, said Bhagirath Choudhary, Director of SABC.
The outbreak of pink bollworm in 2020 was a wake-up call. The field-based solution of rolling out PBKnot technology is an extension of our efforts to help cotton growers in Vidarbha to manage pink bollworm in Kharif 2021, elaborated Dr Choudhary.
Project Bandhan is supported jointly by PI Foundation and Rasi Seeds Pvt Ltd and is being implemented across Vidarbha, Maharashtra, in partnership with cotton and textile value chain partners. The project aims at demonstrating mating disruption technology, promoting an IPM-based package of practices (POP) developed by ICAR-Central Institute of Cotton Research (CICR), intensifying skill development and training programmes, and amplifying effective PBW control measures to farmers across the Vidarbha region.
This project enrolled hundreds of farmers in four clusters. They were given free Bt cotton hybrid seeds and IPM-based POP brochures and were engaged in tagging PBKnot thread dispenser in their field on 30-31 July.
“Project Bandhan is an exemplary initiative to promote pheromone-based IPM production system of cotton. The novel PBKnot pheromone technology is easy to use, affordable and environment-friendly innovation to manage the devastating pest such as Pink Bollworm,” noted Prashant Hegde, CEO (Agri Business) at PI Industries Ltd. “As part of the CSR initiative, PI Foundation is keen to support the area-wide implementation of Project Bandhan and is committed to sustainable agriculture and environmental protection,” Hegde added.
“Rasi Seeds Pvt Ltd has been supporting the Pink Bollworm campaign in Vidarbha for the last two years, implemented jointly by the South Asia Biotechnology Centre and Agrovision Foundation. Our joint efforts have resulted in the management of Pink Bollworm, particularly in Vidarbha. We reinforce our commitment to support the innovative technology and programmes to improve cotton production and farmers’ realization. Project Bandhan is a unique programme dedicated to showcasing the utility, (and) efficacy of (the) novel mating disruption technology and IPM-based production system,” stated Dr Ramasami, Chairman, Rasi Seeds.
“We have successfully implemented awareness and training programmes on pink bollworm in collaboration with South Asia Biotechnology Centre across Vidarbha in the last 3-4 years. Implementing mating disruption technology will help growers to effectively manage pink bollworm in Vidarbha, Maharashtra while (the) outreach programme continues to spread the right messages about (the) IPM-based management of pink bollworm,” stated Ravi Boratkar, President, Agrovision Foundation, Nagpur.
The implementation of PBKnot under the technical guidance of ICAR-CICR was attended by experts including Dr Rama Krishna, Agronomist and Dr Shailash Gawande, Plant Pathologist of ICAR-CICR; Ravi Boratkar, Ramesh Mankar, Rahul, Akash and Akshay of Agrovision Foundation; Dr Sandip Agale of SABC; and elected representatives and hundreds of cotton farmers of Waroda and Adasa villages.