‘Metal treatment' for checking disease in areca palms

Raviprasad Kamila
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Farmer-cum-researcher adopts this method successfully

INNOVATIVE: P. Shankara Bhat Badanaje shows an areca palm ‘treated with pig-iron nail' on his plantation near Vitla in Dakshina Kannada.
INNOVATIVE: P. Shankara Bhat Badanaje shows an areca palm ‘treated with pig-iron nail' on his plantation near Vitla in Dakshina Kannada.

It can be called “metal treatment” to control “kole roga” (fruit rot disease) and button shedding in arecanut plantations.

A farmer-cum-researcher on arecanut at Vitla in Dakshina Kannada has found that both could be controlled effectively by nailing “beedu kabbina” (pig-iron) nails on arecanut palms ahead of the rainy season.

After subjecting 100 areca palms to the experiment last year and satisfied with the results, he has planned to nail 500 more palms in his plantation three months ahead of this (2011) rainy season.

The farmer-cum-researcher, P. Shankar Bhat Badanaje of Poogavana Farms, clarifies that he will urge other farmers to adopt the nailing method only after observing the performance of 100 plants for two more years.

He told The Hindu that he nailed one pig-iron nail each to the 100 palms in his plantation in early May 2010. They were inserted on the foot of trees. Fruit rot disease did not hit those palms in the last rainy season. Button shedding in those palms also stopped.

There was no deterioration in the quality of the nuts harvested recently. The palms with the nails are alive. Each nail was about two inches in length.

Mr. Badanaje, who is also a trustee of Arecanut Research and Development Foundation (ARDF), Mangalore, said that the disease and button shedding were noticed in some other palms which were not subjected to the experiment.

Mr. Badanaje, who hails from a family of Ayurveda practitioners, said that when the palms absorbed iron content their areca bunches developed resistance for fruit rot disease and iron content helped in preventing button shedding. If iron content was fed in excess, it will act like toxic. Excess iron content in a palm could be noticed as its leaf structure changes. If limestone content was fed in the prescribed quantity, excess iron content could be neutralised.

Mr. Badanaje said that he first learnt about such an experiment done at Taliparamba in Kerala, last year. It was reported in a Malayalam media. “A relative of mine, who is a doctor in Kerala, brought this to my notice,'' he said.

He said that he wanted to visit the plantation in Taliparamba. He said that when he contacted the farmer-owner of the plantation, he was told that the latter had sold the plantation and its purchaser had planted rubber there. Hence, he did not visit.

Mr. Badanaje said that he will observe the performance of the 100 palms with nails for two more rainy seasons. “Only then I can authoritatively recommend this method to the other farmers,'' he said.

He said that if the nails had affected the palms, they would have died by now.

“Since I am confident of the experiment, I have ordered for more such pig-iron nails for nailing them on 500 more palms this month. Each nail cost about Rs. 7,” he said.

Mr. Badanaje said that if the palms were nailed three months ahead of the rainy season, the palms can absorb iron content better.



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