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Birds and rodents pose serious threat to foodgrains

Written by: Staff
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Ludhiana, Sep 10 (UNI) Birds and rats pose a serious threat to field crops and stored grains especially at the seedling and ripening stage and destroy paddy worth approximately Rs 2.4 crore annually in punjab.

Weaver birds damage rice nurserics and maturing bajra and soreghum, while doves and pigeons relish pulses.

In Punjab the average damage to wheat caused by rats and mice is around 2.9 per cent at the seedling stage and 4.5 per cent at ripening stage. Peas are another delicacy rats enjoy. The damage caused to peas is 1.1 per cent at seedling and 5.9 per cent at the ripening stage.

Maize, which has multiple uses for the man is also not safe. Rats and mice nibble away 10.7 per cent of winter maize at the seedling stage alone.

Punjab Agricultural University's (PAUs) latest edition of 'Package of Practies for crops of Punjab--rabi 2006-07', documents the damage caused by rodents and birds and the management practices to be adopted for protection.

According to the edition, rats and mice are extremly ''adaptable by nature, highly intelligent in behaviour patterns and pose tremendous potential to multiply'', the edition states. Their sense of smell and taste is acute and are selective in food choice.

Sounding a warning to the farmers of the area along rivers, the edition points out that the damage caused by rats to the wheat crop sown near sugarcane fields along rivers and canal was upto 25 per cent.

The biological methods to control the menace involve protection of owls, kites, hawks , falcons, wild cats and jackals, as these are the natural predators of mice .

Referring to birds, the editions states that parnkeet loves to nibble and eat almost all seasonal crops and enjoys tasting the sunflower. House crows damage sprouting and maturing maize and sunflower.

Of the many management techniques to checkmate or scare away harmful birds, '' alarming calls'' are useful. ''Alarming call'' is a recorded cassette available at the Cente for Communication at PAU and is avaliable in several languages. These should be played at full volume for about 60 to 90 minutes twice a day at dawn and dusk.

The edition further states that conservation of useful birds is equally important. Sparrows and weaver birds feed on a large number of insects which may proove harmful to the crops.

UNI HS PR VA BST1636

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