Factors and patterns of pesticides usage and sustainability of cardomom (Elettaria cardamomum (L.) Maton) in Indian cardamom hils

Murugan, Muthusamy (2011) Factors and patterns of pesticides usage and sustainability of cardomom (Elettaria cardamomum (L.) Maton) in Indian cardamom hils. Doctoral thesis, NIAS.

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Thesis advisorShetty, PKUNSPECIFIED
Abstract: Small cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum M.) is traditionally grown in the Indian Cardamom Hills (ICH) of the Western Ghats, Kerala. The Western Ghats of India have been considered one of the biodiversity hotspots in the world. Currently the production of cardamom in major producing countries consumes very high quantity of pesticides and other chemicals. Although the chemical intensification of cardamom farming in ICH has been going on for the last two decades, sufficient information and data are not available on the quantity of pesticides used by cardamom as in the case of majority of the crops in India .Cardamom cultivation in India might have experienced deterioration of ecosystem because of current growing practices of intensive chemical application and shade lopping that radically changes the properties of cardamom ecosystem components (soil and water.). Also the impacts of chemical intensification on the ecosystem properties are not well known which is very important for such a densely populated biodiversity hot spots like cardamom hills. A comprehensive investigation of factors that affect pesticide usage like climate change, soil biochemical properties and agronomic practices including shade lopping was done for drawing new information that can be used for the long term sustainability of cardamom ecosystem. Pesticide consumption data were drawn from the personal interviews of 103 cardamom planters from the ICH. The analysis of the data collected from questionnaire interviews showed that cardamom consumed more pesticides than tea during the year 2009. Among the pesticides consumed by cardamom the use of insecticides was the highest followed by fungicides and hormones. In tea plantations the herbicide consumption was higher than the insecticides and fungicides. The application of hormones and growth regulators in tea was much lesser. Pesticides were applied on calendar basis in less than 28 days interval. Despite, the majority of the planters interviewed had good education and knowledge; they had no experience on the use of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) practices in cardamom. Most planters interviewed were least concerned about labor cost and cost of inputs etc, but climate change, irrigation water scarcity during summer months and fair market price for the produce were given much importance. They considered these aspects the most important factors for cardamom ecosystem sustainability. The change in climatic conditions particularly increased air temperature and relative humidity as well as break periods during monsoon seasons have favored pest population of cardamom particularly thrips, borers, root grubs and parasitic nematodes. Continuous application of higher rates of fertilizers and manures caused significant reduction in soil pH, which enhanced pathogenic infections of rot diseases during rainy and non-rainy seasons. Increased concentration of soil nutrients (Ca, Mg and Na) in cardamom soil was observed due to the direct effect of fertilizer application Cardamom leaf nutrient concentrations were high particularly for nitrogen, potassium and zinc etc. Therefore, the higher consumptions of pesticides reported in cardamom, could be correlated to combination of all these factors. The ongoing selective tree felling and shade lopping in cardamom plantations had affected the forest microclimate and ecology as well as soil nutrient concentration and cycling.; because the tree canopy bio mass is removed from the site of felling and lopping. Cardamom is highly sensitive to both excessive rainfall and drought like conditions; hence the yield of cardamom is reduced drastically in the subsequent years if the summer or blossom rainfall was insufficient. The number of rainy days in summer months has been found to be important for increasing the yield of cardamom. Cardamom being one of the most valued spices, the domestic market demand is always strong, the average price of 1kg of cardamom during 2009-2010 remained above Rs.1000/-, this is an indication of agronomic sustainability of cardamom as a remunerative farming in ICH. There are as many as 13 pesticide residues were detected in the cardamom capsules with varying levels of concentrations. The important pesticide residues detected were endosulphan, quinalphos, chlorpyriphos, delta-methrin, lambda-cyhalothrin, malathion, methyl parathion, phorate and profenophos. Similarly the soils of cardamom growing pockets were also contaminated with pesticides and their residues, mainly by quinalphos, endosulphan, phorate and ppDDT. However the levels of pesticide residues both in the capsules and the soils varied slightly between 2009 and 2010. Soil biodiversity particularly the bio agents (Pseudomonas spp.) and bacterial and fungal feeding nematodes were decreased drastically indicating the lower level of soil biodiversity Considering the environmental sustainability of pesticide and fertilizer intensive cardamom farming the surface water quality has been deteriorated; the presence of higher concentration of aluminum, zinc, silicon, nitrate in the surface water samples of the cardamom ecosystem pose serious threats to both human being and the environment. Most of the pesticides used in the cardamom plantations were regarded more toxic to honey bees which are the main pollinators of cardamom. Continued higher application of fertilizer and manures has caused accumulation of heavy metals in cardamom soils, which might affect the biogeochemistry and sustainability of cardamom ecosystem. The existing practices of higher chemical inputs (fertilizers and manures) along with the present and future expected climate change; the pesticide consumption of cardamom will continue to increase. However, the integrated crop and pest management practices and increasing biological diversity of cardamom ecosystem (including agro biodiversity) can help significantly reduce the pesticide consumption and make cardamom ecosystem more sustainable for which the understanding the toxicology of chemicals under changing practices and climate is imperative..
Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Additional Information: Thesis submitted to Manipal University. Manipal. [Year of Award 2011] [Thesis No. TH9]
Subjects: School of Natural and Engineering Sciences > Environment
Doctoral Programme > Theses
Divisions: Schools > Natural Sciences and Engineering
Date Deposited: 13 Oct 2011 09:17
Last Modified: 18 Feb 2021 11:29
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    Funders: UNSPECIFIED
    Projects: UNSPECIFIED
    URI: http://eprints.nias.res.in/id/eprint/222

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