Neem cake and solution can replace chemical pesticides due to their eco-friendly properties, writes Swathi.V

In these days when the stress is growing foodgrains sans chemicals, one cannot but emphasise the importance of organic farming. And when it comes to organic cultivation, one cannot underestimate the invaluable contribution of Ajadirachta indica or the neem tree.

Neem cake and solution are being widely used to replace chemical fertilizers, due to their eco-friendly properties. Neem products are especially favoured because they apply ‘discretion’ in their ‘execution’. While neem does not kill the pest , it plays a key role in altering the metabolic processes in the pest , thereby repelling it successfully. At the same time, it does not kill or drive away harmless insects such as bees and butterflies which help in pollination and reproduction.

On the other hand, “chemical pesticides, when used over a period of time, make the pests immune to their impact, thereby causing largescale damage. It is not the case with neem products,” says M.Anantha Reddy, chairman of the Agri-Horticultural Society.

Neem cake, a good source of nitrogen, doubles as fertilizer too. While containing the spread of termites, it also meets the nutritional requirements of the plant. Neem cake is obtained after extraction of oil from neem leaves and seeds.

Spraying

Neem solution should be sprayed to the underside of the leaves to curb insect infestation. Neem oil is widely available in the market in various concentrations.

All we have to do is to follow the instructions on the product to make a solution. The usual dosage is five millilitres of oil per a litre of water.

“Alternatively, one can make a home remedy of neem solution. A kilogram of neem cake soaked in five litres of water for a whole week will yield a good solution of foliage spray. It can also be pot-fed to the plant. The residue left after straining the solution can be mixed in the soil for nutrition,” says V.B.Joshi, also from the society. Alternately, neem pods crushed and soaked in water will also yield an equally effective solution. Neem solution mixed in chemical pesticide will help moderate the harmful effects of the latter.

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