Crop Disease Diagnosis: Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) is closely monitoring the transplantation of paddy in the state this year, following a significant outbreak of the dwarf disease that affected over 34,000 hectares of crops last season.
To prevent a repeat of the widespread disease, PAU experts have proactively begun taking field samples and are advising farmers on how to identify early signs of the dwarf disease. Additionally, the university is hosting seminars and discussions, engaging experts from other countries to collaborate on potential solutions.
One of the key recommendations put forth by PAU experts is the integration of modern technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and the internet of things (IoT) for precise forecasting and diagnosis of crop diseases. This approach is expected to enable more accurate and timely responses to potential disease outbreaks.
During a recent webinar organized in collaboration with the International Rice Research Institute, Philippines, experts highlighted various strategies to combat the dwarf disease. Dr. RN Sundaram, Director of ICAR-Indian Institute of Rice Research (ICAR-IIRR), Hyderabad, suggested intensifying field surveys and learning from successful management techniques used in countries like Vietnam and China. Standardizing seed treatment, developing precise diagnostic tools, and studying virus-vector-host relationships were also recommended.
Dr. VK Baranwal, National Professor at ICAR-IARI, New Delhi, stressed the importance of developing a quick nucleic acid-based on-field detection assay to enable farmers to implement disease mitigation strategies promptly.
The insights from overseas experts were equally valuable. Dr. Hoang Anh Ta, Deputy Head of Plant Pathology and Immunology Division at Plant Protection Research Institute, Vietnam, emphasized the necessity of closely monitoring and managing vector populations right from the nursery stage.
Dr. Tong Zhang, an associate professor at South China Agricultural University, emphasized the criticality of understanding the biology of the insect vector, white-backed plant hopper (WBPH), to develop location-specific disease management strategies. He also highlighted the influence of cultural practices, such as choice of rice varieties, planting dates, and rice ecology, on disease development.
Dr. GS Buttar, Director of Extension Education, has advised farmers in Punjab to exercise caution and adopt comprehensive approaches from biological, agronomic, and ecological perspectives to avoid facing the same issues as last year.
Furthermore, Dr. PS Sandhu, Head of the Department of Plant Pathology, assured that the department is well-equipped to detect the southern rice black streaked dwarf virus (SRBSDV) infection. They are diligently monitoring weeds and other known crops that act as alternate hosts for SRBSDV.
With the concerted efforts of PAU experts, collaboration with international institutions, and the integration of modern technologies, it is hoped that Punjab’s paddy crops will be safeguarded against the dwarf disease outbreak, ensuring a prosperous harvest season for farmers.