Regional Agricultural Research Station, Ambalavayal
Regional Agricultural Research Station, Ambalavayal
Regional Agricultural Research Station for High range zone is located at Ambalavayal Wayanad district. Ambalavayal is located about 25 km east of Kalpetta, the district headquarter. The station was established under Ex Service men Colonisation programme Wayanad, in 1946 by the then Madras Government. It became a part of Department of Agriculture, Government of Kerala in 1956 and was renamed as Central Horticultural Research Station in 1966. It was transferred to kerala Agricultural University in 1972 and elevated as Regional Agricultural Research Station for High Range Zone in 1983.
The lead function of the station is to provide research support for agriculture in the High Range zone (Wayanad & Idukki districts and Nelliyampathy area of Palakkad district). Cardamom Research Station, Pampadumpara, Idukki district is a substation of RARS Ambalavayal. Research programmes on crop breeding and management aspects of pepper, ginger, rice, scented rice and cool season vegetables; studies on crop weather relationships, soil fertility management etc are undertaken. Research and infrastructure development programmes are funded by a number of agencies including Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), National Horticulture Mission (NHM), State Horticulture Mission (SHM), Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY), India Meteorological department (IMD) and Government of Kerala. At present there are eleven state funded research/development projects and fourteen programmes supported by other agencies.
Mandate of the Station
The station is located at an altitude of 974 M above MSL, about 100 km. East of Calicut and 10 km. From Sulthan Bathery. The station enjoys a mild subtropical climate. The total area of the station is 87.3 ha and grows a wide variety of crops like coffee, pepper, rice including scented varieties, spices like ginger, turmeric, clove, cinnamon , tropical and subtropical fruits, summer and cool season vegetabeles. The station is assigned with the mandate of solving location, specific problems of horticultural and spice crops.
Lead functions : Pepper and pepper based cropping in high ranges, cool season vegetables, hill paddy, soil and water management, subtropical fruits and tree spices, coffee based cropping system.
Verification function : Essential oils, medicinal plants & ginger.
Ten farming situations have been identified in the high range zone as detailed below.
- Coffee in homestead gardens
- Cofee as a pure crop
- Intercropping in young coffee and pepper plantation with annuals
- Pepper as pure crop
- Cardamom cultivation in forest lands
- Tea plantations
- Rubber plantations
- Coffee + pepper mixed cropping
- Annual crops in up lands
- Annual crops in wet lands
Important Research/Extension/development programmes
The station maintains a rich germplasm of black pepper, ginger, turmeric and rice. RARS Ambalavayal is the lead centre for the multi institutional project entitled”Multi Enterprise Farming Models to Address the Agrarian Crisis of Wayanad District of kerala” under National Agricultural Innovation project funded by ICAR.
The network project on Agro meteorological advisory service provides short term forecasts on weather and crop advisory based on the forecast. The information is provided to farmers through mass media. The station has a class B meteorological observatory and automatic weather station.
RARS Ambalavayal is a Cooperating Centre for the All India Coordinated Research Project on Spices. Research programmes on pepper, ginger, turmeric etc are taken up under this project.
Multi Location trials (MLTs) with improved varieties of rice, ginger , turmeric and pepper are conducted at RARS to recommend suitable varieties for the high range region.
RARS serves as a major hub for the supply of seeds and planting materials of various crops. Rooted cuttings of black pepper, seed materials/seedlings of ginger, turmeric, clove, nutmeg, cinnamon, mangosteen; grafts/seedlings of mango and other fruit plants, seeds of different varieties of rice, scented rice varieties like Jeerakasala and Gandhakasala, seeds and seedlings of tropical/cool season vegetables, various ornamental plants including roses are being multiplied and distributed. The nursery activities are being scaled up with the help of Women self help groups formed under NAIP on revenue sharing basis. Rice seed production is also being done in participatory mode. Annually about 2.5 lakh rooted pepper cuttings, 25-30 tons of rice seeds, 4-5 quintals of vegetable seeds, 2-3 tons of ginger and turmeric seed rhizomes and 2-2.5 lakhs seedlings/grafts of various tree spices/fruit plants are distributed. Seed and nursery activities are managed in a revolving fund mode with corpus made available by ICAR/KAU/RKVY. Revenue to the tune of Rs. 1.10crores is generated through these activities and sale of farm produce.
Facilities for production of tissue culture banana, bio control agents for management of crop pests/diseases are being established with SHM funding. A Leaf/tissue analysis and crop management advisory facility is also being established.
RARS took lead role in obtaining Geographical Indicator Registration for scented rice varieties Wayanad Jeerakasala and Wayanad Gandhakasala for Wayanad in favour of Wayanad Sugandha Nellulpadhaka Sangham. Steps are being taken to get similar recognition for Wayanad Pepper and turmeric in favour of Wayanad Organic Consortium.
RARS provides agro advisory services to the farmers and extension personnel. Multi disciplinary diagnostic team visits are conducted to address field problems.
RARS has 87 ha farm with pepper, coffee, rice, coconut, areca nut, mango, mangosteen, sapota, banana, vegetables, fodder crops, and a collection of sub tropical fruit species. The farm and nursery is visited by farmers, tourists, students and public. The station has excellent rapport with farmers, Local Self Government Institutions, Department of Agriculture and other agencies working in the field. The facilities available are also being used for providing trainings. Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) Wayanad also functions in the campus and conducts training programmes, frontline demonstrations, participatory action research pogrammes etc. This farm is a notified centre in the tourism net work of DTPC Wayanad and attracts a lot of visitors. RARS maintains a garden with good collection of roses.
During 12th plan period the station is poised to develop as a lead centre for research in black pepper, scented rice and cropping systems in Wayanad. Proposals for establishing a Product development and Processing Centre for Jack fruit, Research programme for Protected cultivation and precision farming in vegetables and ornamentals and promotion programme for Agro tourism are also in the offing.
The station has undertaken elaborate studies on ginger. Out of the 31 varieties of ginger studies, Rio-de-Janeiro and Maran were found to be high yielding under rainfed conditions. Nadia and Thingpuri were found to be good for dry ginger production.
Highest percentage recovery of dry ginger was obtained from Maran. Riuo-de-Janeiro, Assam, Kuruppampady, Valluvanad and Ernad varieties were superior with regard to oleoresin content.
Organic amendments such as coconut oil cake, ground nut cake, seasamum cake and cashew shell when applied to the soil to give nitrogen requirement of 50 kg/ha were found to reduce the soft rot incidence of ginger caused by Pythium aphanidermalum.
Bacterial wilt of ginger could be effectively controlled by oil drenching and foliar spraying with 1% Bordeaux mixture at monthly intervals two months after planting.
Studies on soft rot incidence of ginger indicated that seed treatment with captan 0.2% is effective in controlling pre-emergence rhizome rot.
Among the 33 varieties of turmeric evaluated, PTS-9 was found to be promising.
Detailed studies of the floral biology and fruit set of vanilla have been made and technique of hand pollination was standardised. It was found that 97.5% to 100% success by hand pollination could be acheieved if it is performed between 6 am to 6 pm.
Among the different methods of curing of vanilla bears Mexican process was found to be the most suitable one under Indian conditions which gave the attrative chocolate brown colour, mild flavour and non-flexible texture, moderate shrinkage and 4.15 per cent vanilla.
The fungus which causes vanilla wilt was identified as Fusarium oxisporum. The disease could be controlled by sanitation, mulching and drenching with 0.5 per cent Bordeaux mixture.
All spice (Pimenta dioica) an important tree spices which jhas got the flavour and qualities of almost all the spices was found to be suitable for cultivation in Wayanad.
A high yielding variety of cardamom evolved by pure line seklection from Malabar type, (PV-1) has been released for cultivation, from Pampadumpara.
Cultivation of cardamom under artificial shade has been found to be feasible and economical.
The best season for rooting of laterals of black pepper was found to be the last fortnight of June followed by first fortnight of July.
Coorg mandarin organge budded on rough lemon root stock was found to be better than other combinations with respect to growth, yield and quality of fruits.
Studies with 27 mango varieties available in the station revealed that Prior and Dasheri are high yielders (75 kg/tree/year) prior, Pairi and Bennet Alphonso were found to be early bearing.
Stone grafting was found to be the best method of vegetative propagation in mango.
Bodies Altafort, a table variety of banana has been found high yielding under rainfed and irrigated condition. This has been recommended as a variety in Package of Practices of KAU for large scale cultivation in the zone.
Planting Nendran Banana in Asugust gave highest bunch weight (8.380 kg/bunch) followed by Ocxtober (8.20 kg/bunch), September (8.10 kg/bunch) and July (7.83 kg/bunch) plantings.
September variety of cabbage has been found desirable and has been recommended for general cultivation in the zone.
Pureline selection suited to high range situations were made from local varieties and released as WND I & WND II.
Rice variety, Edavaka having high grain/straw yield, good grain quality and suited for both cropping seasons was developed at the station.
Time of planting of medium duration rice varieties have been standardised. Planting during the first week of August for the first crop and first week of January for the second crop was found to give higher yields. The results are being adopted by farmers in the district. The station was responsible for introducing 4th scented rice variety, Pusa basmati-1 in Wayanad and was found to be promising in Wayanad and can be successfully cultivated in Wayanad during first and second crop season.
In the rice based farming system, rice followed by ginger was found most remunerative, which is being adopted in the rice fallows in the districts.
Inter cropping trials in eucalyptus plantations with ginger, turmeric and lemongrass showed that the yield of oil was higher from plots where lemon grass and ginger were intercropped.
The results of pruning in eucalyptus indicated that maximum leaf and oil yields were obtained when plants were pruned at an intervel of eight months. The percentage of recovery was found to decrease when pruning was done earlier or later.
Activities of the Station
Seed & Nursery programme
Seed and nursery programme aims at the production and distribution of quality seeds and planting materials of paddy, vegetables, spices, fruits and ornamental plants. The production of pepper rooted cuttings, clove and nutmeg is taken up under Central Sector Scheme. Eight nursery structures were constructed under the Central Sector Scheme. A climate controlled green House has been constructed at this station. Rapid multiplication technology is now adopted fro the production of planting materials of recently released varieties of pepper. The sale receipts from the nursery has exceed 12 lakhs annually.
Plant Biotechnology Centre
A plant biotechnology centre was started at this station for the large scale production of planting materials of spices and other plantation crops. The centre concentrates on the mass production of high value crops like vanilla, all spice and ornamental crops like anthurium, orchids, etc.
AICRP on Spices
This station is identified as centre under the All India Co-ordinated Research Project on Spices by ICAR. Two projects viz. Multilocational trial on black pepper and Multilocational trial on cinnamon are allotted to this station.
Agrometeorological Advisory Service
An agrometeorological advisory service is functioning at this station as an externally aided project.
Dairy and Rabbitory
A small dariy and rabbitory unit is functioning at the station for demonstration-cum-training purposes.
A mushroom unit is functioning at the station. Training on mushroom production as well as distribution of mushroom spawn is carried out under this unit.
Research and Extension Activities
18 approved research projects on various crops like spices, rice, vegetables, coffee, medicinal plants, rubber (collaborative with Rubber Research Institute, Kottayam) are in operation at the station. The station is rendering agro advisory services to the farmers at the station and also in the field on problems, brought by the farmers and the extension personnels. The station in association with KVK imparts training (both on campus and off campus) on various aspects of crop and animal husbandry to the farmers, extension works of the development departments, banks etc. Joint field visits with officials of the department of Agriculture on specific problem is also done. The scientists of the station are also involved in the Peoples Campaign for democratic planning. The Head of station is a member of the DLEC, Member of expert committee on Agriculture at the district level and also Chairman of the expert committee on Agriculture at Block level. The other scientists are members of BLEC and expert committee on Agriculture at Block Level.
The revenue from the station has touched 40 lakhs during 1997-98.
The office & laboratory building are very old and small and quite inadequate to accommodate the scientists, staff, laboratory, library, computer and documentation. The storage facilities for the various farm produces and seeds produced in the station are also quite insufficient.
The station has got a NARP hostel, conference hall, three scientist quarters and one duplex quarters for administrative staff.
The station is provided with 2 tractors, one power tiller, and farm implements like rotovator, disc plough, paddy thresher etc.