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Coconut research was started in India in 1916 in the erstwhile Madras State with the establishment of four research stations, one each at Kasaragod and Pilicode and two at Nileshwar. When the Indian Central Coconut Committee was established, the research station at Kasaragod was taken over by the Committee in 1947 and in 1970, it became the C.P.C.R.I under I.C.A.R. With the formation of Kerala State in 1956 the remaining three stations came under the Department of Agriculture, Govt. Kerala. In 1972 when the Kerala Agricultural University came into existence, one of the stations at Nileshwar (Nileshwar-II) and the station at Pilicode were transferred to Kerala Agricultural University with headquarters at Pilicode. Under the N.A.R.P., these stations have been reorganised to form the Regional Agricultural Research Station for the northern region since Ist August 1980 onwards.
The main objective of the station is to perform the State wide lead function for research on coconut and to serve as a commodity verification and testing centre for rice, pulses and oilseeds and to supervise and guide the work at Pepper
Mandate of the Station
Research Station, Panniyur in the northern zone of Kerala. The scientists of this station would work with selected villages to understand of farmers' constraints and reactions towards adopting the recommended practices. It is also mandatory to test and evaluate the promising experimental results in farmers' fields under different soil types and climatic conditions prior to their inclusion in package of practices recommendations.
In the beginning, the activities were centred around introduction of coconut cultivars from different parts of India and other countries, selection, hybridisation, identification of superior local and hybrid varieties and their distribution among farmers. Very good achievements were attained in this regard. After the implementation NARP, research activities were intensified and apart from research on coconut, research on rice, vegetables, oilseeds, pulses and tubers was also initiated. Agrometeorological Cell and animal Science wing are the two additional components on which emphasis is given at the station.
The research station maintains a unique collection of coconut germplasm consisting of 35 exotic and 40 indigenour types.
Philippines Ordinary, Lakshadweep Ordinary, Cochin China, Java, New Guinea, and Spicata were found to be highly suitable for cultivation in the northern zone under rainfed conditions. Philippines Ordinary and Lakshadweep Ordinary ranked first in yield of copra and number of nuts, respectively.
The coconut hybrids viz., WCT x CGD, Lakshaganga (LO x GB), Keraganga (WCT x GB), Anandaganga (AO x GB), Kerasree (WCT x MYD) and Kerasoubhagya (WCT x SST) were released. Kerasree ranked first in copra yield (216 g/nut). It cour produce 250 nuts/palm/year and copra outturn of 30 kg/palm/year while Kerasowbagya could produce 217 nuts/palm/year with copra outturn of 25 kg/palm/year under good management conditions.
23 boldnut and promising types of cashew have been identified from Kannur and Kasaragod districts. They are being maintained at the station.
Out of 14 promising and released cashew types, H-1600 was found to be superior.
Out of 108 pickling type of mangoes identified in the northern districts of Kerala as well as northern South Kanara district of Karnataka, 43 are found to be promising.
Jagathy (Culture 1727) was released as a high yielding variety of rice suitable for this zone.
Siz promising nendran clones supplied by the Banana Research Station, Kannara are being studied in this station for their adaptability. The best among these will be popularised if found suitable for the region.
Annual Moringa, released by Tamil Nadu Agricultural University was tested and found suitable for this zone.
A large number of accessions of cucurbitaceous vegetables are being screened for summer fallows of rice of the northern region. Snake gourd (67 accessions), melon (108 accessions), bitter gourd (80 accessions), ride gourd (74 accessions) were studied and five each were advanced for further investigations. One each improved line of melon (CSI) and ridge gourd (LA-1) have been recommended for release.
Partial removal of husk of seednuts before planting in nursery has been found to increase germination percentage as well as quality of seedlings. Seednuts sown in poly bags are found to be superior to the ones grown in conventional seed beds. The poly bag seedlings are faster in growth, better in quality and easier to manage with regard to irrigation and weed control.
Application of 0.50, 0.32 and 1.2 kg N, P and K respectively, per palm per year along with 25 kg green leaf and 10 kg FYM increases the yield up to 67 per cent. It was found that application of fertilisers at the above level has a benefit - cost ratio of 3.96 which is most economical as against 1.45 in case of cultivators' practice of applying 25 kg green leaf and 10 kg FYM per palm per year.
In an intercropping trial in coconut gardens where cocoa was grown in single and double hedge systems, it was found that intercropping does not affect the coconut yield. Growing this intercrop in double hedge was found to be more efficient and economical to utilise the available interspace profitably. Similarly rice, tapioca, amorphophallus, ginger, groundnut, pepper can also be grown as intercrops in coconut garden, by adopting scientific management practices and applying correct dose of manures and fertilisers and this will help to increase the income.
Among the eight sweet potato entries tested as floor crop in coconut garden, H-4021 gave a maximum yield of 4888 kg/ha while the Kanhangad local yielded only 2963 kg/ha.
A fertilizer trial on sweet potato grown as a floor crop in coconut garden has indicated that application of 25 kg N and 50 kg K per hectar gave the maximum yield for this crop.
Irrigation at the rate of 400 litres/palm/week during summer months will increase the yield of nuts (more than 50%, quality and quantity of copra.
A strain Azolla pinnata with high sporulation has been screened out from the rice fields of the northern region of Kerala. This strain PIL - 1 has great potentiality of saving nitrogenous fertilisers in paddy fields.
Experiments conducted had revealed that Azospirillum, a potent nitrogen fixing bacteria occur in the root environments of various species and plantation crops. Root functions and root development in pepper cuttings has also been found to be enhanced by inoculation of the cuttings with Azospirillum. It also favours the formation of more healthy and strong roots and shoots.
Application of Carbofuran did not adversely affect the growth of Azospirillum. However, the chemical was not found to favour its growth. Bordeaux mixture was found to have a deleterious effect on the growth of Azospirillum in the surface soil up to a depth of 4 cm but did not affect at 24 cm depth.
Irrigating with 30 litres of water once in two days is optimum for banana. For vegetables grown in areas of water scarcity, pitcher irrigation is recommended.
Shedding of buttons and immature nuts is a serious menace affecting coconut. The etiology and control of this malady are evading the scientists. Therefore, a multidisciplinary approach is made to solve it. The positive role of insects and pathogens in the shedding of buttons has been established and remedial measures suggested.
Stem bleeding is another serious disease of coconut palms. The control measures of which are also being tried in a multidisciplinary approach. The various curative measures recommended are, removing the affected and decayed portions, application of hot coal tar or Bordeaux paste, application of neem cake (5kg/palm/year) and drenching Calixin (25 litres of 0.1 % solution).
Potton, leaf fall and fruit rot were found to affect banana severely in northern Kerala. Preliminary studies were carried out and adhoc recommendations formulated.
A new disease in sesamum caused by a bacterial was reported. Similarly in ginger also, a new disease was reported and control measures suggested.
Spraying Bordeaux mixture was considered to be phytotoxic to cucurbitaceous vegetables. But experiments conducted in bitter gourd, snake gourd and watermelon have showed that Bordeaux mixture if properly prepared is not phytotoxic to them. It checked the disease and increased the yeild.
Dithane - M 45 can be used for controlling sheath blight of paddy. It is cheaper than any other fungicide presently recommended.
Irrigation requirement of coconut palm has been worked out based on reference evapotranspiration, crop coefficient and area of coconut root zone. CROPWAT is used to work out reference evopotranspiration.
The adverse effect of drought on coconut yield was seen in the succeeding year starting from eighth moth to twentieth month after the drought period was over. The peak decline in monthly coconut yield was seen in the twelth or thirteenth month after cessation of the drought.
Nearly fifty per cent of the variability in coconut yield could be explained by the severity of soil moisture stress during the preceding summer.
Regression models for predicting annual yield in coconut seven months ahead have been developed using agroclimatic indices. The model has a predictability of 0.94 R2 .
Providing few irrigations at the rate of 450 litres/palm/week during the summer (December to May) starting from December to till water is available is not detrimental to coconut production even if irrigation is discontinued further.
The influence of altitude and latitude was found to be significant on cashew phenology. For every altitude of 100 m, there was a delay of 2, 5 and 3 days in cashew bud break, harvest and crop duration, respectively. The influence of altitude is due to differences in surface air temperature.
Crop growth simulation models have been tested in rice. CERES-Rice model was found to be suitable for assessing potential grain yields during Kharif while it requires validation for use with Rabi crop.
Crop duration and grain yield decrease in Allikkanna ( a local cultivar of rice) if the date of transplanting was delayed beyond second fortnight of June.
The average birth weight, three month weight, six month weight and one year weight of kids were 1.97 = 0.16, 7.1=1.45, 10.11=2.15 and 15.00=3.35 kg, respectively. The average age at first kidding was 503 days with a interkidding interval of 282 days. Among all the births, 40 % was singles, 49 % twins and 11% triplets. Sex ratio was 49:51. The percentage of kid mortality was 8.2.
Thirty nine per cent of goat farmers have land holdings of 10 cents and below and only 5% have 1 acre. Muslims are the dominant section accounting for 65% of goat farmers and 30 % of them have income between Rs. 20,000/- and Rs. 30,000/- per year. 70% of the farmers have medium families (4-8) members. 54% of head of families was illiterate. 50% of goad farmers was labourers and an equal number of them had a land holding between 11-50 cents. Approximately 50% of farmers had small families and it was found that 27% of heads of families was illiterate.
If piggery, studies on utilization of unconventional feed andeconomics of pig (Large white Yorkshire) rearing unde integrated farming have been initiated.
Studies on feed efficiency of pure bread and cross bred broiler rabbits (soviet Chinchilla, Newzealand White, Gray Giant and White Giant and their crosses) were also initiated.
The coconut hybrids released from this station are widely accepted by the cultivators and they are popular not only in this zone of Kerala but also in the entire State of Kerala as well outside Kerala also.
Large scale hybrid production programme in coconut has been taken up to meet the great demand from the farmers for coconut hybrids.
Cashew grafts are being distributed on large scale. 82 cashew demonstration plots are being maintained under the Central Sector Scheme of Cashew.
Annual 'Moringa' is highly popular and the seedlings are being distributed to the farmers of this zone.
Under the programme of popularisation of oyster mushroom cultivation, a demonstration-cum-training unit has been established at RARS Pilicode and Nileshwar. On large scale, spawn is produced and supplied.
For the management of stem bleeding disease of coconut, root feeding/soil drenching with calaxine in addition to the application of 5 kg neemcake per palm is widely used by the farmers.
Husk burial is widely used in coconut gardens to conserve soil moisture.
Zonal Package of Practices recommendations was prepared to help the extension workers.
Weekly agroadvisory bulletins are at the doorstep of the farmers through hand-delivery, AIR, and daily news papers based on the medium range weather forecast received from NCMRWF (DST), New Delhi.
A 'Sales Counter' was established at RARS Nileshwar to distribute farm products, planting material and University publications.
Veterinary Hospital and Artificial Insemination Centre is very popular among the farmers. On an average, 200 cases are treated and 60 inseminations are done. Also, number of kids, piglets and young rabbits are being supplied from the animal Science Unit.
Lab to Land Programme : Based on the farm production, inputs like seeds, coconut seedlings, fertilizers, plant protection chemicals, agricultural implements, supplementary food for cattle, poultry birds and goats were distributed to the selected beneficiaries of lab-to-land programme. More than 220 farmers were selected from six Panchayats of Kasaragod and Kannur districts. Apart 25 SC/ST families were selected from Pilicode and Nileshwar Panchayats and distributed female goats along with supplementary food components to improve their income and standard of living. Beneficiaries under this programme were given training on improved agricultural practices and proper goat rearing and management.
Village Adoption : The Village Adoption programme has been conceived as a means to transfer new production technologies to the farmers and to establish close contact with them. Pilicode and Nileshwar villages have been adopted. Selected unemployed youth from these villages were given seeds and fertilizers to layout kitchen garden in their house premises and training on the improved vegetable cultivation is given to them. Selected farmers of these villages were given training in edible mushroom cultivation and also in plant protection and nursery techniques.
Linkage and Co-ordination : There is a good co-ordination with other research organisations like CPCRI, CWRDM, ISRI & NRCC. Discussions with the scientists of these institutions are being arranged during regional workshops and on other need based occasion.
Monthly Workshops : Monthly workshops are regularly conducted in the zone once in a month in which the Zonal associate Director of Research acts as Chairman and Zonal Scientists act as resource personnel. The extension personnel are given plan of action for the coming two weeks on various crop package practices.
Zonal Workshops : Zonal Research and Extension Advisory Council meets twice in a year (before and after crop season) to discuss on various research programmes taken up in the zone.
Diagnostic Team : Scientists of this zone have served as Chairmen and members of the Diagnostic team constituted to study the specific problems of the northern zone comprising Malappuram, Kozhikode, Kannur and Kasaragod districts. The scientists belonging to different divisions namely, Crop Improvement, Crop Management and Crop Protection paid field visits to specific areas as and when requested by the extension agencies and have solved farmers' problems on cultivation and management as well as on crop protection.
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