Plant Diseases

posted Aug 2, 2012, 7:34 AM by Prakriti Food   [ updated Aug 30, 2012, 10:01 AM by Balachandran Chidambaranatraj ]
In organic farming, the scariest thing for the farmer is the Pests & Diseases.

But, that's only till one sees the problem in a isolated way. If the pests & diseases are seen as just indicators of 'something', then it's relatively easy to approach that 'something' in a rational way and solve it.

For example, in our farm, a few days back our marigold plants got infected with some disease and was spreading fast. The flowers were getting blackened first followed by the leaves and the entire plant died off (refer to the photos below)

viral disease in marigold plant - organic flower
viral disease in organic marigold plant
viral disease in marigold plant

In our attempt to strike the balance between modern and traditional approach, we decided to take it to the 'Plant Doctor' first and get it inspected. We went to the 'Plant Clinic' in the University of Mysore run by the Botany department. One of the first things we wanted to know was whether it was a fungal disease or bacterial disease. Because, like in humans, the cure need to be addressed differently for each of them.

Shyamala, the plant doctor confirmed that it's a fungal disease. Well almost. After a few days of analyzing the plant, she called up and said it may not be a fungal attack but a pest attack as the main factor. She also showed the insects within the darkened flowers.

In organic farming, fungal attack looks less complicated than the pest attack. Because for fungal attack, there are some traditional herbicide combinations that will work perfectly to control the spread of disease and subsequently by addressing the soil deficiency that has caused the attack, things can be brought under control. But in pest attack, the origin of the problem could be anything and not necessarily the soil fertility alone.

Adding another dimension to it, it's been observed that the plant anyways is in its last cycle of flowering (2 flowering cycles were successfully over). Plants reaching their death stage are expected to be weak and prone for external attacks.

While talking to an experienced farmer Ramakrishna Bhat, he observed that he too faced some pesticide problems initially, but once the 'ecosystem' is established, it vanished. With a variety and balance of flowers and herbs around, his farm is full of life with microbes to huge birds. The small microbes are eaten by the earthworms, which are eaten by big insects which are eaten by birds in turn, thus forming a well balanced cycle. Only when this cycle is broken, 'pests' appear! By harmonizing with Nature, pesticides shall be removed - it was a realization to have!

Regular watering and panchakavya application helped to get the yieds. However the flowers weren't that big and beautiful as they were during the first round of flowering.

While looking for herbicide solutions, came across this interesting site which has a wealth of information regarding plants and farming. A place for all earnest organic farmers -