Solar Power Helping Reduce Pesticide Use In India

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A solar powered device is helping farmers in Tamil Nadu to dramatically decrease the amount of pesticide applied to crops.
    
Brinjal and jasmine cultivators in the region have quite a battle in controlling fruit borer and whitefly in their crops; spraying as often as once a week.
   
According to The Hindu; David Raja Beula, Assistant Director of Horticulture, Kadayam in Tirunelveli district has changed that in trials with a solar powered pest management device.
    
Consisting of a small solar panel, battery, two five watt bulbs and a tray on which a paste of castor oil and shampoo mix is smeared; the device attracts pests and traps them in the sticky mix.
   
The results have been quite dramatic – where participating farmers were once spraying weekly; spraying now occurs once a month. Aside from the substantial savings on pesticide; fewer toxic chemicals are entering the ecosystem. 
  
In organic farming scenarios, the device also offers promise of cheaper and simpler methods of pest control.
   
Mr. Beula says the device can also be used with other crops.
   
This gadget isn’t the first of its kind – we’ve reported in the past on solar assisted pest management solutions such as the device developed by China-based Agrisolar Solutions that has been demonstrated to substantially reduce harmful insect pests in apple orchards and rice crops.
   
Genetically modified crops were touted to be an answer to pesticide application; but it appears “Bt” corn and cotton crops that are meant be toxic to certain insects have resulted in the rise of pests resistant to the crop toxin and subsequently; insecticide use in those crops is on the rise.
   
A significant pest in corn crops is the European corn borer – which is apparently also attracted to light. Where GMO technology is apparently failing, perhaps solar power holds some of the keys to success.
  
Image credit: University of Minnesota