Author (S. Sundaramoorthy and P. Balabaskar)
Chilli (Capsicum annuum L.) is an indispensible vegetable cum spice crop and suffers from several pests and diseases. In recent years, Plant Growth Promoting Rhizobacteria (PGPR) has gained worldwide importance and acceptance for agricultural benefits. These microorganisms have the potential tools for disease control and growth promotion in various crops and patho-systems which involve multidisciplinary approaches to understand adaptation of PGPR to the rhizosphere, mechanisms of root colonization, effects on plant physiology and growth, bio-fertilization, induced systemic resistance, bio-control of plant pathogens etc. Considering the seriousness of diseases in chilli, investigations were carried out to utilize indigenous PGPR strains of Fluorescent Pseudomonads for eco-friendly management of diseases of chilli. These strains of Fluorescent Pseudomonads were evaluated for bio-control activity and induction of systemic resistance in chilli. Strains with high defence related enzymes (peroxidase, polyphenly oxidase, phenyl alanine lyase) and β-1,3-glucanase as well as production of antibiotics (phenazine), antimicrobial compounds (hydrogen cyanide) and salicylic acid were used in this study. Shelf-life and compatibility of Fluorescent Pseudomonads with other insecticides, fungicides and bio-agents were undertaken before its use as a component in Integrated Pest Management (IPM) trial. The IPM trial was conducted on farmers‘field of 25 acres. The IPM strategies were followed by regular monitoring of pests and diseases throughout the chilli growing season. The results showed that the incidence of powdery mildew, leaf spot, wilt, die-back/anthracnose, as well as sucking pest and fruit borer was significantly reduced in IPM plot treated with PGPR compared to control. The number of pesticide sprays was significantly lower (30%) in IPM plots as compared to non IPM plot in adjacent region. Overall, the average yield in IPM plot was 28.52 q/ha compared to 23.84 q/ha in non IPM plot. In terms of monetary value, Rs. 2,03,243 per ha was recorded in IPM plot as against Rs. 1,48,581in non IPM plot, which is a net gain of Rs. 54,662 per ha.