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Types of Agroforestry
Trees in Agroforestry
Agrisilvicultural systems

Mass Multiplication of Worms
Preparation of vermiwash
Recommendation of crops
Coirpith composting
Cultivation of paddy-straw mushroom (Volvariella volvacea)
Silkworm rearing


Agroforestry refers to land management systems that integrate agricultural crops with forest crops. It is a collective term for all land use systems and practices in which woody perennials are deliberately grown on the same land management unit as crops or animals, either in some form of a spatial arrangement or in a time sequence and in which there is a significant interaction between the woody perennials and the crops or animals.

Types of Agroforestry

The major classes of agroforestry include, agrisilviculture, silvopastoral, agrosilvopastoral and other (miscellaneous) systems.

Agrisilviculture refers to systems in which agricultural crops are integrated with trees on the same land management unit either in time or space. Examples include taungya, alley cropping, multipurpose trees either as woodlots or as scattered trees on farmlands or on farm boundaries, crop combinations involving woody perennial plantation crops, growing commercial crops in association with planted shade trees or trees in natural forests, shelterbelts, energy plantations, enriched fallow and so on.

Silvopastoralism represents land management systems in which forests including forest plantations are managed for the concurrent production of wood and livestock. They also refer to situations in which trees are scattered in pasture/grasslands, protein banks/cut and carry fodder production system involving woody perennials and the like.
Sylvopastoral system is a type of land management in which forests are managed for the production of wood as well as for the rearing of domesticated animals. In this system animals are kept and permitted to graze within the forest. This system therefore distinguishes from other systems in which forage (either herbaceous or shrubby) is grown in mixture with forest trees, but is harvested for feeding elsewhere. For practising this, vast area of land is required.

Agrosilvopastoral systems, the most intensive form of land management, are systems in which the land is managed concurrently for the production of agricultural and forest crops and for rearing of domesticated animals.

In addition, there are many agricultural practices associated with forest that strictly do not fall under the above categories. These include, collection of non-timber forest products from forests, growing trees around wetlands and other water bodies in which fish culture is practised, apiculture with trees and multipurpose woodlots etc.

Trees in Agroforestry

Many tree species (woody perennials) are encountered in agroforestry. These include common timber species such as ailanthus (matti), teak, wild jack and multipurpose tree species such as mango, jack, tamarind, erythrina, gliricidia etc. Species-specific recommendations for some important timber (softwood and hardwood) trees are given below

Agrisilvicultural systems

Shade loving crops such as ginger perform better in the inter-spaces of tree species such as ailanthus (at four years of age, planted at a spacing of 2 x 2 m; with 60% of the light in the open).

Multipurpose tree species like ailanthus, teak, vellapine, silver oak and green manure yielding trees can be successfully interplanted in the older coconut plantation (preferably above 30 years of age), often in association with other field crops including medicinal plants such as kacholam. Depending on the space available (between coconut palms), one or two rows of multi-purpose trees can be accommodated in the middle (spacing 1-2 m between plants). Tree management such as lopping / pollarding etc. is important to prevent any possible interspecific competition between the multipurpose tree component and the coconut palms.


Aquaculture, the husbandry of aquatic organisms. Aquaculture provided 20 percent of global fisheries production (and 29 percent of food fish) in 1996. Most aquaculture production (15.1 million tonnes) originated in freshwater. Of the remainder, 9.7 million tonnes were produced in marine environments and about 1.6 million tonnes in brackish water environments. These figures are excluding the production of aquatic plants, which amounted to 7.7 million tonnes in 1996 Global production of aquaculture continues to be dominated by China, which in 1996 accounted for more than 67.8 percent of world output. However, given the relatively low value of carp and seaweeds, which dominate Chinese culture, its contribution to the world value of aquaculture production was just 45.4 percent. Japan, on the other hand, accounted for 4 percent of total world aquaculture production by weight but for more than twice that share by value because of the high-value species cultured (e.g. amberjack, scallops and oysters).

Need for Aquaculture

Supplies from traditional ocean fisheries are decreasing: Due to over-fishing and pollution.
Demand for quality seafood is increasing: Due to population increase and health considerations.
Consumers everywhere want consistency in quality and availability at the right price:
Seafood is the fastest growing food industry
The only solution is aquaculture - The husbandry of aquatic organisms: Aquaculture supplies of 30 million tons are produced annually, constituting 23% of world fisheries requirements.


True honeybees belong to the family Apidae subfamily Apinae and genus Apis. They are social insects living in colonies. A colony consists of a queen, several thousand workers and a few hundred drones. There is division of labour and specialization in the performance of various functions. They build nests (combs) with wax, which is secreted from the wax glands of worker bees. The bees use their cells to rear thin brood and store food. Honey is stored in the upper part of the comb; beneath it are rows of pollen storage cells, worker brood cells and drone brood cells in that order. Some Apis species build single comb in open, while others build multiple combs on dark cavities.

Species of honeybees

There are four species of honeybees in India. They are:

Rock bee (Apis dorsata): They are giant bees found all over India in sub-mountainous regions up to an altitude of 2700 m. They build single comb nests with an area up to 1 m2 or more. They are good honey gathers with an average yield of 50-80 kg per colony.

Little bee (Apis florea): They are the smallest of the true honeybees found in plains of India up to the altitude of 500 m. They build single vertical combs. They are poor honey yielders and yield about 200-900 g of honey per colony.

Indian bee (Apis cerana indica): They are the domesticated species, which construct multiple parallel combs with an average honey yield of 6-8 kg per colony per year.

European bee [Italian bee] (Apis mellifera): They are also similar in habits to Indian bees, which build parallel combs. They are bigger than all other honeybees except Apis dorsata. The average production per colony is 25-40 kg.

Stingless bee (Trigona iridipennis): In addition to the above, another species is also present in Kerala known as stingless bees. They are not truly stingless, but sting is poorly developed. They make nests in the ground, hollows of trees, bamboo, rocks or cracks of walls. Honey and brood cells are separate in the nest. They are efficient pollinators. They yield 300-400 g of honey per year.


Swarming is the natural instinct of honeybees to reproduce its colonies. By swarming, strong colonies are divided naturally. It occurs mostly when the colony population is at its peak. Some of the several reasons for swarming are sudden honey flow, sudden failure of queen to lay eggs, congestion in the colony, want of breeding space, bad ventilation etc. Dividing the colonies or keeping young queen or preventing over crowding of bees or adding new combs can prevent swarming.


Absconding is the total desertion of colony from its nest due to incidence of disease / pest attack, too much interference by human beings or robbing of honey by bees from other colonies. Proper hive management can prevent it.


The worker bees communicate with other bees about the exact location of nectar, pollen, water, next nesting site etc. by means of dances. Round dance is performed when the food is located within 100 m from hive and wagtail dance to communicate the location of food source when it is more than 100 m away from the hive.

Bee space

It is the space large enough to permit the free passage for worker bees but too small to encourage bees building a comb and too large for bees depositing propolis in it.

Indian bee (Apis cerana indica)

This is the domesticated hive bee in Kerala. A colony consists of a queen, 20,000 to 30,000 workers and a few drones. This species is with gentle temperament and responds to smoking. Lack of flora leads to absconding and also has a strong tendency for swarming. It yields 8-10 kg of honey per colony per year.


ISI Type-A box is recommended for the state of Kerala. A division board may be added to the bee box for adjusting the internal space depending on the strength of the colony. It can also be procured from beekeepers. Wild feral colonies can be hived. Beekeepers in different regions use local hives made of low cost wood. The wood should not have a strong smell. Kail (Pinus excelsa), teak (Tectona grandis), toon (Toona ciliata) anjili (Artocarpus hirsutus), punna (Calophyllum inophyllum) are some of the suitable woods. The hives should be preferably painted white on outside to protect the timber from weathering.

Hiving wild colony

It is done during evening hours. Smoke the colony slightly, cut out the combs one by one and tie to the brood frames with plantain fibre. Arrange them in the box.

Location of beehives

The apiary must be located in well-drained open area, preferably near orchards, with profuse source of nectar, pollen and water. Windbreaks may be provided by planting shrubs, flowering plants and also creepers like antigonon. Shade must also be provided. Ant wells are fixed around the hive stand. The colonies must be directed towards east, with slight changes in the directions of the bee box as a protection from rain and sun. Keep the colonies away from the reach of cattle, other animal, busy roads and streetlights.

Management of colonies

Inspect the beehives at least once in a week during brood rearing / honey-flow seasons preferably during the morning hours. Bright, warm and calm days are suitable. If sunrays fall directly on the beehive spread cloth or a towel over the same. Look for freshly laid eggs to ensure that the colonies are healthy. Clean the hive in the following sequence, the roof, super/supers, brood chambers and floorboard. Observe the colonies regularly for the presence of healthy queen, brood development, storage of honey and pollen, presence of queen cells, bee strength and growth of drones. Look for the infestation by any of the following bee enemies.

Wax moth (Galleria mellonella): Remove all the larvae and silken webbings from the combs, corners and crevices of bee box.

Wax beetles (Platybolium sp.): Collect and destroy the adult beetles.

Mites: Clean the frame and floorboard with cotton swabs moistened with freshly made potassium permanganate solution. Repeat until no mites are seen on the floorboard.

Diseases: The dead larvae due to Thai sac brood virus (TSBV) in the comb cells may be removed and destroyed.

Management during lean season
Remove the supers and arrange the available healthy broods compactly in the brood chamber. Provide division board, if necessary. Destroy queen cells and drone cells, if noted. Provide sugar syrup (1:1) @ 200 g sugar per colony per week for Indian bees. Feed all the colonies in the apiary at the same time to avoid robbing.

Management during honey flow season
Keep the colony in sufficient strength before honey-flow season. Congestion in the hive must be avoided and surplus honeybees are drawn to supers. Provide maximum space between the first super and the brood chamber and not above the first super. Place queen excluder sheets in between brood and super chamber to confine the queen to brood chamber. Examine the colony once in a week and frames full of honey should be removed to the sides of the super and such frames can be raised from brood to super chamber. The frames, which are three-fourth filled with honey or pollen and one-fourth with sealed brood should be taken out of brood chamber and in its place empty combs or frames with foundation is added. The frame with comb foundation should be placed next to the brood nest. The combs, which are completely sealed, or two-third capped may be taken out for extraction of honey and returned to supers after honey extraction. This helps the colonies to activate the bees to collect and store more honey. Two or three such extractions are possible during a surplus flow. Extraction of uncapped honey will result in fermentation. Honey extraction, after the flow is over, should be avoided to save the bee colonies from robbing. Care should be taken to retain sufficient combs with honey in the brood chamber or reduce the lean period.

Migratory bee keeping

The moving of bee colonies from one place to another to capture increased nectar flow of a particular flora is called migratory beekeeping. Copious flow of extra floral nectar available on rubber trees during January-April is exploited by shifting bee colonies to these plantations during this period.

Similar practice is done in cashew plantations and in other orchards too. Maintaining bee colonies in orchards will increase the yield, since pollination is more efficient in such orchards.

Shifting of colonies is done after sun set. Colonies should be prepared as follows. Extract available honey and fasten all the weak combs to frames with plantain fibres. Secure the frames to the chamber with packing. Close the bee entrance with cotton. Then secure the bee-box (floorboard, brood chamber, supers and roof) firmly with strong threads. Do not tilt or topple beehives while stacking them in the conveyance or during transit. Avoid strong jerks and shocks while transporting.

Set up the beehives as described above at the new site. Inspect the condition of combs and tighten loose threads, if any. This inspection should be done only in dim light. Next morning remove the cotton plug at bee entrance. Later provide comb foundation sheets, if necessary and provide sufficient space for storage of honey.

Extraction of honey

Honey is extracted only from super combs using honey extractor. The sealing of cells on combs is removed with sharp knife before placing in the extractor. Extractor should be worked slowly at the beginning and at bout 150 rpm at the end for about 1 to 2 minutes. Then the sides of the frames are reversed and the extractor is again worked. Extracted honey is filtered through muslin cloth. Providing a bee escape between the brood and super on the day prior to honey extraction keeps the bees away from the super. Remove the escape soon after honey extraction.

Processing of honey

Heat the honey to 45ºC by keeping it in a water bath. Sieve it to remove wax particles, debris, dust and pollen. Again heat it to a temperature of 65ºC in water bath and maintain it for 10 minutes. Then cool and filter it in 80-mesh muslin and store in glass, porcelain, earthenware, enamelware or stainless steel containers. Bulk storing can be made in mild steel containers lined with bee wax.

Italian bee (Apis mellifera)

It is a native of Europe introduced to Himachal Pradesh and Punjab during 1962-64 and introduced to Kerala on a trial basis from Haryana in November 1992. It maintains a prolific queen, swarms less, has gentle temperament and is a good honey-gatherer. It is known to be resistant to TSBV. A healthy colony may contain 60,000 to 80,000 worker bees. The following modifications are to be followed in beekeeping with Italian bees.

Langstroth beehive with ten frames each in brood and super chambers and a division brood chamber is recommended. The brood and super chambers are of the same size.

Procuring bee colonies
Colonies can be obtained either by dividing existing colonies or by buying from other agencies.

Location of beehives
Follow the practices as in Indian bees, but use a strong four-legged stand well protected from ants and other crawling insects by providing ant wells.

Management of colonies
Apart from the management practices followed for Indian bee, the practices as mentioned below may be followed.

Sources of pure water should be available near the apiary. Stagnant water or water in a container is not appropriate because it can spread nosema disease. Flowing water near the apiary should serve as a good source. As an alternative, water trickling from a container set on a stand and falling on a slanting wooden plank can be provided.

During the brood rearing season (growth period) from October to January, replacement of old queens by young healthy ones, uniting the weak colonies and giving supplementary feeding as and when required should be done. Colonies should be provided with enough space for brood rearing and food storage, by giving comb foundation sheets one at a time.

In areas where queen mating is a problem, especially when only a few colonies are kept in isolated pockets, the colony with virgin queen is to be transferred to areas where more number of colonies are kept so as to ensure the availability of queen in sufficient numbers and afterwards returned to the former apiary.

During honey flow season (January-April), provide raised combs in the super and the number of combs to be added depends on the strength of the colony. Only ripe honey is harvested when two-third of the comb cells are capped so that honey contains less than 20 per cent moisture. Care should be taken to see that the bee colonies are not stripped of all the honey stores. Enough stores of honey should be ensured in the hive at the end of honey flow for use during the following lean period. For migratory bee keeping, follow the practices as adopted for Indian bees.

Extraction of honey
The sealing of comb is removed with a sharp knife and the extraction done in an extractor designed for langstroth size frames. Extracted honey is filtered through a coarse cloth to remove the impurities.

Processing of honey
To be done as described under Indian bees. During the lean season (May-September), remove the super chambers, arrange the available healthy brood combs in the brood chamber and use division boards to restrict the space. Provide artificial feeding once in a week by way of 1:1 sugar syrup in water. Each colony may require syrup prepared from 500-750 g sugar a week depending on the size of the colony and availability of stored food. When there is dearth of natural source, pollen substitutes may be provided in the colony.

Pests and diseases

Brood mite (Tropilaelaps clareae): Infests the brood and the infestation is severe during the major brood rearing season (October-January). These ectoparasites feed on the haemolymph of developing broods slowly killing them. Dusting sulphur on the topbars of the frames at the rate of 200 mg / frame at 7-14 days interval during brood rearing season is very effective in checking the infestation.

Yellow-banded wasp (Vespa cincta): These predatory wasps catch the bees from both the hive entrance and inside the hives. Locating and destroying their nests by burning or insecticidal usage is an effective control measure.

Wax moth (Galleria mellonella): Infests weak and unattended colonies. Proper cleaning of the hives periodically and keeping the hives without cracks and crevices can avoid infestation.

Black ants: Various species of black ants intrude beehives and take away honey and pollen and kill the brood and bees, which may lead to absconding of colony. The apiary should be kept clean and the ant nests destroyed by insecticidal applications. Ant wells should be provided for the beehive stands.

Red tree-ant (Oecophyla smaragdina)
If not protected properly, the red tree-ants can cause considerable damage to the bees and the brood. The bees that come in contact with the ground are attacked and killed by the ants and dragged to their nests by a number of ants. In the apiary, if the branch of a tree with these ants happens to come in contact with the hive, the entire colony is attacked and destroyed. Providing ant wells will keep away the ants. Care should be taken not to keep the colonies near or under the trees having ant nests.

Bee-eater bird (Merops orientalis)
These predatory birds do much harm in certain localities. They pick the bees on wings and 30-43 honeybees have been found in the stomach of a bird. Attack by these birds is mostly seen during December-January. These birds are also very useful in keeping down the insect population in a locality and hence no large-scale measures against them can be recommended. Scaring them away from apiaries is suggested.

Thai sac brood virus


All the larval instars are susceptible to the disease, earlier instars being more susceptible. Affected larvae appear slightly plumby compared to healthy ones when examined on taking out of the comb cells. The infected larvae see stretched on their back in the cells with the head directed outwards and turned upwards like the prow of a boat. The dead larvae look like a sac filled with milky white fluid when lifted up and it ruptures even with the slight pressure releasing the milky fluid. The cadavers change their colour from white to pale yellow and sunk down to the floor of the cell and dry up in 10-15 days as brownish black boat shaped scales, which is easily removable from the cells.

The sequence of visible symptoms found in the field is:

1. Presence of unsealed cells in brood area containing diseased larvae with their head directed outwards like the prow of a boat.
2. Dead larvae are seen lying stretched out on their back on the floor of brood cells and look like a sac filled with milky white fluid when lifted up.
3. Appearance of dead larvae strewn on the floorboards, hive entrance or on the floor near the hive.
4. Mottled appearance of brood combs with uncapped cells interspersed with capped cells or cells with perforated capping.
5. Appearance of more and more dead larvae left within the cells without being ejected by the worker bees.
6. Appearance of sac like remnants of dead larvae within the cells.
7. Lack of cleaning activity within the hive.
8. Decrease in egg laying rate and irregular placement of eggs.
9. Decrease in foraging activity and presence of idling workers inside the hive.
10. Dwindling of bee population of the colony.
11. Desertion of infected hives by the bees causing total loss to the apiary.


Being a virus disease there is no known remedy for its cure. However, the following measures may help in minimizing the possibilities of further spread: a) Keeping colonies strong; b) avoid exchange of hive parts, combs etc. from infected colonies to healthy colonies; c) avoid procurement of colonies or swarms from infected areas.


Composting is largely a biological process in which microorganisms of aerobic (which require air or oxygen for development) and anaerobic (which functions in absence of air or free oxygen) decompose organic matter and lower the carbon-nitrogen ratio of the substrate. Compost is prepared from vegetable and animal refuses collected in the farm or in towns or villages.

Method of composting

The available refuses in the farm are collected and stored till they form sufficient mass for compost making. A trench of suitable size, say, 4-6 m long, 2-3 m broad and 1-1.5 m deep is dug, the accumulated refuse is well mixed, and a layer 30 cm in thickness, is spread all along the length of the trench. This layer is well moistened by sprinkling cowdung slurry and water over it. A second layer (30 cm thick) of the mixed refuse is then spread. The process is repeated till the heap rises to a height of 45 cm to 60 cm above ground level. The top is then covered with a thin layer of earth. After three months of decomposition, the mass is taken out of the trench and formed into a conical heap above the ground, moistened with water, if necessary, and covered with earth. After another month or two, the manure will be ready for application to field.


Vermi-technology is a process by which all types of biodegradable wastes such as farm wastes, kitchen wastes, market wastes, biowastes of agro-based industries, livestock wastes etc. are converted to nutrient rich vermicompost by using earthworms as biological agents. Vermicompost contains major and minor nutrients in plant-available forms, enzymes, vitamins and plant growth hormones.
Species suitable: Eudrillus eugineae has been identified as the best species of earthworm for vermi-technology under Kerala conditions.
Vermicomposting of farm wastes
Pits of size 2.5 m length, 1 m breadth and 0.3 m depth are taken in thatched sheds with sides left open. The bottom and sides of the pit are made hard by compacting with a wooden mallet. At the bottom of the pit, a layer of coconut husk is spread with the concave side upward to ensure drainage of excess water and for proper aeration. The husk is moistened and above this, biowaste mixed with cowdung in the ratio of 8:1 is spread up to a height of 30 cm above the ground level and water is sprinkled daily. After the partial decomposition of wastes for 7 to 10 days, the worms are introduced @ 500 to 1000 numbers per pit. The pit is covered with coconut fronds. Moisture is maintained at 40 to 50 per cent. When the compost is ready, it is removed from the pit along with the worms and heaped in shade with ample light. The worms will move to bottom of the heap. After one or two days the compost from the top of the heap is removed. Put back the un-decomposed residues and worms to the pit for further composting as described above. The vermicompost produced has an average nutrient status of 1.5%, N, 0.4% P2O5 and 1.8% K2O with pH ranging from 7.0 to 8.0. The nutrient level will vary with the type of material used for composting.

1. The composting area should be provided with sufficient shade to protect from direct sunlight.
2. Adequate moisture level should be maintained by sprinkling water whenever necessary.
3. Take preventive measures to ward off predatory birds, ants or rats.
Depending on the extent of weathering of leaves used for composting, 70 per cent of the material will be composted within a period of 60-75 days. At this stage, watering should be stopped to facilitate separation of worms from the compost. Compost can be collected from the top layers, which can be sieved and dried under shade. Earthworms aggregated at the bottom layers can be collected and used for further vermicomposting.
Vermicomposting from coconut leaves
Weathered coconut leaves can be converted into good quality vermicompost in a period of three months with help of earthworm, Eudrillus sp. On an average, 6-8 tonnes of leaves will be available from a well-managed coconut garden, which will yield 4-5 tonnes of vermicompost with about 1.2, 0.1 and 0.5% N, P2O5, K2O respectively.
Vermicomposting of household wastes
Select a wooden box of 45 x 30 x 45 cm or an earthen/plastic container with broad base and drainage holes. Keep a plastic sheet with small holes at the bottom of the box. Add a layer of soil of 3 cm depth and a layer of coconut fibre of 5 cm depth above it for draining of excess moisture. Add a thin layer of compost and worms above it. About 250 worms are sufficient for the box. Spread daily vegetable wastes in layers. Cover the top of the box with a piece of sac to provide dim light inside the box. When the box is full, keep the box without disturbance for a week. When the compost is ready, keep the box outside in the open for 2-3 hours so that the worms come down to the lower fibre layer. Remove compost from the top, dry and sieve. The vermicompost produced has an average nutrient status of 1.8 % N, 1.9 % P2O5 and 1.6 % K2O, but composition will vary with the substrate used.

Mass multiplication of worms

Earthworms can be multiplied in 1:1 mixture of cowdung and decaying leaves taken in a cement tank or wooden box or plastic bucket with proper drainage facilities. The nucleus culture of earthworms is to be introduced into the above mixture at the rate of 50 numbers per 10 kg of organic wastes and properly mulched with dried grass, straw or wet gunny bag. The unit should be kept in shade. Sufficient moisture level should be maintained by occasional sprinkling of water. Within 1-2 months, the earthworms multiply 300 times, which can be used for large-scale vermicomposting.

Preparation of vermiwash

Method 1
The system consists of a plastic basin having a capacity of 20 litres, a plastic perforated waste-paper basket and a PVC pipe of 5 cm diameter and 30 cm length. The waste-paper basket is covered with a nylon net and placed at the centre of the basin upside down. A hole is made at the bottom of the waste paper basket so that a PVC pipe of 5 cm diameter can be placed into the basin through the hole in such away that one end of it touches the basin. The PVC pipe is perforated so that the leachate from the basin seeps through the waste-paper basket and collects in the PVC pipe, which can be siphoned out by a kerosene pump. In the basin outside the waste-paper basket, a layer of brick pieces are placed and a layer of coconut fibre of 2-3 cm placed above it. After moistening this, 2 kg worms (about 2000) are introduced into it and 4 kg kitchen-waste is spread over it. After one week the kitchen-waste turns into a black well-decomposed compost. Two litres of water is sprinkled over the compost containing worms. After 24 hours, the leachate collected in the PVC pipe is removed by siphoning. The collected leachate is called vermiwash, which is actually an extract of compost containing worms. This is used for soil application and foliar spray in different crops. Vermiwash is honey-brown in colour with a pH of 8.5 and N, P2O5 and K2O content 200, 70 and 1000 ppm respectively. For large-scale collection of vermiwash, a cement tank of size 80 x 80 x 80 cm is constructed. A layer of small brick pieces or gravel is placed at the bottom of the tank. Above it a layer of fibre of 3-4 cm thickness in placed. A definite quantity of biowaste (4 kg) is added to the system along with 2 kg of earthworms. After two weeks, the entire mass of biowaste will turn to brownish black compost. Then add 2 litre of water. Vermiwash is collected through the side tap after 24 hours. Again biowaste is added to the system and the process is repeated.
Method 2
This is a simple and economical technique to collect vermiwash. The system consists of an earthen pot of 10 kg capacity, which is filled, with pieces of stone up to 10 cm height from the bottom. Above this, a plastic net is placed and spread out. Then a thick layer of coir fibre along with humus containing 1500-2000 worms of species Eudrillus euginae or Isenia foetidae is laid down. The hole situated at the bottom of the pot is fixed with a water tap through which vermiwash is collected. Every day, the kitchen waste is put into the container. Allow the composting process to continue for one week or more till brownish black mask of compost is obtained. Occasionally, two or three tablespoons of fresh cowdung slurry is poured on the humus as feed for the worms. After the formation of compost, soak the entire mask with two litres of water. After 24 hours, about 1.5 litre of vermiwash can be collected. This process can be continued for one or two weeks till the brown colour of wash disappears. The less enriched compost that remains in the pot can be collected and used as fertilizer. Later, the pot can be emptied and set up again to continue the process.
The potential of vermiwash as a biocide either simply or when mixed with botanical pesticides can be very well exploited for household vegetable cultivation.

Recommendation for crops

When vermicompost is applied as organic manure instead of FYM, the quantity of in-organic fertilizers can be reduced to about half the recommended dose.

Coirpith composting

Coirpith, one of the agricultural wastes is produced and heaped in large quantities as waste material from the coir industry. Approximately 2.5 lakh tonnes of coirpith accumulate in Kerala as waste. Coirpith has wide C:N ratio and its lignin rich nature does not permit natural composting process as in other agricultural wastes. Pleurotus spp. have the capacity to degrade part of the cellulose and lignin present in coirpith by production of enzymes viz., cellulases and lactases. The C:N ratio of coirpith is reduced from 112:1 to 24:1 as a result of composting. The lignin content also reduces considerably.
Method of composting
Materials required: Coirpith 1 tonne, urea 5 kg, mushroom (Pleurotus) spawn 1.5 kg.
Select a shaded place of 5 x 3 m dimension and level it after removing weeds. First spread 100 kg coirpith uniformly. Spread 300 g (one bottle or cover) of Pleurotus spawn on this and cover this with a second layer of 100 kg coirpith. On the surface of the second layer, spread 1 kg urea uniformly. Repeat this sandwiching process of one layer of coirpith with spawn followed by another layer of coirpith with urea up to 1 m height. Sprinkle water if necessary to keep the heap moist. Allow the heap to decompose for one month.
The coirpith is converted into good manure after 30-40 days and the lignin content is reduced from 30% to 40%. Another significant change is the lowering down of C: N ratio from 112:1 to 24:1.
This coirpith compost contains macronutrients as well as micronutrients. It has the unique property of absorbing and retaining moisture to about 500-600 per cent. It improves the water infiltration rate and hydraulic conductivity of soil.


It is the business of producing, processing and distributing milk and milk products.


Species of Pleurotus commonly known as oyster mushrooms grow saprophytically under natural conditions on trees, dead wood, stumps and branches. Today several species of Pleurotus are commercially grown in many parts of the world. Kerala enjoying a typical tropical climate is found to be the most suitable place for mushroom cultivation. Species of Pleurotus and Volvariella can be successfully cultivated in the State all round the year on a variety of agro-wastes like saw dust, vegetable and paper wastes, oil palm pericarp waste and straw. But the best suitable substrate is found to be paddy straw.
Ananthan is a short duration variety released from KAU. It is an inter-stock hybrid of Pleurotus petaloides; tough fleshed, pure white in colour, pest and disease resistant; and yields about 100-120 g per harvest. It has good cooking quality and consumer acceptability and can be grown in wheat, paddy and sorghum straw. On an average, it takes eight days from spawning to harvest. Yield potential is 800 g per kg straw.
Method of cultivation
Polythene bags or tubes of 30 x 60 cm size with 150-200 gauge are taken for filling the substrate. If the tubes are used, the free-end is tied with a string. Seven to eight holes of 0.5-1.0 cm diameter are made all over the bag for aeration. One kg of well dried, one-year-old paddy straw is cut into small bits of 5-8 cm in length and immersed in water for 18 hours. Then the soaked straw is taken out from water and kept inside the basket for 1-2 hours to drain away excess water. The soaked straw is kept under boiling water (100ºC) for 30-40 minutes for surface sterilization or to achieve pasteurization and then taken out and kept inside the basket to drain excess water and allowed to cool down. The pasteurized straw is ready for filling the bags. Instead of straw bits, small round bundles of 20 cm diameter are also used for filling the bags. This method is followed to save time and labour. Now the perforated polythene bag is filled for about 5 cm height with the above processed straw and pressed with hand for making it even. Care should be taken to fill the bags as compactly as possible for the proper growth of mycelium. For getting maximum yield, 2-2.5% (125 g) of spawn is used. Spawn is taken out from packets and kept inside a clean container or paper. From this, one tablespoon full of spawn is sprinkled over the filled straw around the peripheral region. A second layer of processed straw is filled and spawned as above. Repeat the process as above until the soaked straw is finished. Every time before spawning, press the straw with hand for making it compact. If bundles are used for filling the bags care should be taken to keep the bundles inside the bag as compact as possible without leaving any space in between the bundle. Finally the bag is closed tightly with twine and beds are kept undisturbed for spawn running for about 15-20 days inside the rooms, thatched rodent-proof sheds or in verandas. The best temperature and humidity for spawn running ranges from 28-30ºC and 80-85%, respectively. The beds can be arranged over a platform or in shelves. The spawn running can be judged from the whitish growth covering the straw completely. Periodically observe the beds and discard the contaminated ones. After 15 days when the spawn running is complete, remove the polythene bag by cutting it with blade and keep the bed for sporocarp formation. The opened beds are kept in well-ventilated rooms. Relative humidity of the room should be 80-85%. If temperature inside the room rises above 30ºC, the room should be sprinkled with water to lower the temperature. Diffused light is essential for normal fruiting. Pinhead formation starts on 20th day and 2-3 days are required for the maturation of the fruiting body.
Cropping and yield
Matured and fully opened sporocarps are harvested by placing the thumb and forefinger near the base of the fruiting body and twisted in clockwise direction to get detached from the mycelium. An average yield of 500-700 g can be harvested from 1 kg of straw. The spent straw can be used as enriched cattle feed.

Cultivation of paddy-straw mushroom (Volvariella volvacea)

The paddy straw mushroom can be successfully cultivated in the plains of Kerala throughout the year where the temperature ranges between 28-32ºC. The straw beds can be laid out in sheds, veranda of buildings and during summer under shades of trees. Beds should not be kept under direct sunlight. Prepare a raised platform of 1 m long and 0.5 m broad with wooden planks or bricks. Ten to fifteen kg of well-dried and hand-threshed straw is required to raise a single standard bed. For spawning this bed, two bottles of spawn and about 100 to 150 g of red gram powder are needed. First the straw is made into twists of about 5 to 8 m long and 20-25 cm diameter. The twists are tied into small bundles and are kept immersed in clean water in tanks for about 6 to 12 hours. After this, the bundles are taken out and kept aside for some time to drain the excess water. The bundles are untied and the straightened twists are placed length-wise over the platform in a zigzag fashion. The twists are placed as close as possible. Keep another layer over the first layer crosswise. These two layers form the first layer to be spawned. Break open the spawn bottles and carefully divide the spawn into small bits of 2-2.5 cm thick. Place these bits of spawn all along the periphery of the bed, about 5-8 cm away from the edge and 10 cm apart. Sprinkle a teaspoon full of coarsely powdered red gram powder before and after spawning the first layer. Build the next layer with one row of twist as done before and spawn it. Make successive layers until the straw twists are finished. After placing the last of twists, press the bed thoroughly from the top in order to drain excess water. Make the bed as compact as possible and cover with a transparent polythene sheet to maintain the temperature and relative humidity within the bed. Place another wooden plank over the bed and keep 4-5 bricks above the plank to get more compactness. Keep the bed undisturbed for 6-7 days. Slowly remove the sheet and observe the moisture level of the straw. If the moisture is excess remove the sheets for half an hour and then cover it again as before. Small white round pinheads appear all along the sides of the bed after 7 days and mature into button and egg stage on 9th day. Harvest the mature sporocarps in eggs stage. About 2-3 kg of mushrooms can be harvested from 10 kg of straw. Cropping lasts for 2-3 days. After the harvest, the spent straw can be sun-dried and used as cattle feed.
Instead of twists, the beds can be laid out using small bundles of straw each weighing about one kg. Place four such bundles of straw side by side over the platform with loose ends towards the same direction. Over this, place another four bundles, the loose ends towards the opposite direction. These eight bundles form one layer, which is to be spawned as in the case of twists.


Mulberry can be grown under various climatic conditions ranging from temperate to tropical. Its growth depends on many climatic conditions such as temperature, humidity, rainfall etc. A temperature range of 24-28ºC, humidity range 65-80% and 600-2500 mm rainfall are optimum for the good growth of mulberry. The soil should be deep, fertile, well drained, clay loam to loam, with good moisture holding capacity. Slightly acidic (6.2-6.8 pH) soil free from injurious salts is ideal for good growth of mulberry.

Land preparation
The field is levelled and ploughed deeply before the onset of monsoon. FYM may be applied @ 10 t/ha for the rainfed crop and 20 t/ha for the irrigated crop during land preparation.

Method of planting and spacing
(1) Pit system (rainfed crop): Spacing 75 x 75 cm (pit size 30 x 30 x 30 cm)
(2) Row system (irrigated crop): Spacing 60 x 60 cm (ridges and furrows)

Planting material
The variety K2 gives higher yield and better quality leaves. Cuttings must be prepared from shoots of proper maturity (6-8 months) and thickness with well-developed buds. Cuttings of 7-10 cm length and pencil thickness with 3 or 4 active buds are ideal.

For irrigated crop, two cuttings should be planted at each spot along the margin of the ridge.

For rainfed crop, three cuttings are to be planted per pit in a triangular manner with a distance of 15 cm, keeping only one bud exposed.

Maintenance of the garden (1st year)
After 8 months of planting, 50 kg each of N, P2O5 and K2O per ha should be applied after weeding. First harvest can be taken six months after planting by leaf picking. Second dose of 50 kg N per ha should be applied 8 weeks after the first leaf harvest. Two more crops can be taken at an interval of 3 months, by leaf picking.

For rain fed crop apply FYM @ 10 t/ha as a basal dose and topdress every year at the time of annual pruning. Fertilizers are applied @ 130:65:65 kg/ha of N:P2O5:K2O in two split doses. For irrigated crop, FYM is given @ 20 t/ha as basal dose. Fertilizers are applied @ 300:120:120 kg/ha of N: P2O5: K2O in five split doses.

For rainfed crop, bottom pruning is done in May-June. Two top clippings in August/ September and December/January are also practised. Middle pruning is done in October/November. For irrigated crop, bottom pruning at 15-30 cm height in May, two top clippings in August and December and two middle pruning at 60 cm height in October and February/March are practised.


Tussock caterpillars (Euproctis fraterna)
Larvae eat the leaves of the mulberry plant. Their incidence is frequent during March to August. Collection and destruction of egg masses and spraying 1% DDVP are effective. Waiting period is 3 days.

Jassids (Empoasca flarescens)
Greenish hoppers feed on the underside of the leaf, sucking sap causing hopper burn. Spraying 0.1% dimethoate is effective. Waiting period is 10 days.

These are frequent during summer season. Attack is severe in rainfed gardens. Spraying 0.02% DDVP is effective. Waiting period is 3 days.

Mealy bugs (Maconelliococcus hirsutus)
It causes 'tukra disease'. The affected leaves show curling and stunted growth at the growing point. Application of methyl demeton (0.05%) is effective. Waiting period is 15 days.

Scale insect
When attack is severe, branches dry and become yellow. Spraying lime sluphur solution is effective.

Leaf eating caterpillar (Diacrisia obliqua)
Appears frequently between November and January. Collection and destruction of egg masses, deep ploughing and flood irrigation to kill the pupae and application of 0.2% DDVP on the leaves can prevent the attack.

Root knot disease (Meloidogyne incognita)
Common in sandy loam type of soil under irrigated conditions. Controlled by applying neem oil cake @ of 400 kg per ha per year in four equal split doses.


Powdery mildew (Phyllactina corylea)
It is more common during November-February. White powdery patches appear on the lower side of the leaves. Can be controlled by spraying dinocap 0.2%.

Leaf rust (Ceratelicum fici)
The attacked portion of the leaves has whitish brown pustule on both sides and is deformed and also not nutritive. Infection is more in November-February. This can be controlled by spraying carbendazim 0.1% or tridemorph 0.1%

Leaf spot (Cercospora moricola)
Diseased leaves have a number of circular or irregular brownish black spots of varying size. Infection is more common in rainy season. This can be controlled by spraying 0.1% of carbendazim.

Rainfed crop: 12000-15000 kg / ha / year
Irrigated crop: 25000-30000 kg / ha / year

Silkworm rearing

Requirements for silkworm rearing

1. Good quality mulberry leaves
2. Rearing house of approximately 20 m2 for 100 dfls (disease free layings), with good ventilation, mild temperature (24-28ºC) and humidity (65-85%).
3. Rearing equipments like chawki stand (one), wooden trays (10), rearing racks (5), chopping board (one) and knife, wooden / bamboo rearing trays (50), chandrika / netrika (mountage) (40), leaf chamber, feeding stands, ant wells, rocker sprayer, wet and dry bulb thermometer and materials like formaldehyde / bleaching powder, paraffin paper, cleaning nets, foam rubber strips, and RKO powder are required.

Rearing techniques
Disinfect the rearing house and equipments to prevent silkworm disease, two-three days before rearing. First, wash the rearing house and the equipments with 2% bleaching powder. Then spray the room and equipments with 5% bleaching powder or 2% formaldehyde. Close the houses for 24 hours for the fumes to get diffused.

First incubate the dfls (egg card) at a temperature of 24-26ºC and RH 75-80%, one day prior to hatching (blue egg stage); cover the eggs with black paper (black boxing). Next day morning, open it and expose to diffused sunlight. As the larvae emerge out, fresh tender leaves collected from the plant are chopped into 0.5 x 0.5 mm size and sprinkled over the hatched larvae. After half an hour, transfer the larvae to the paraffin paper spread in the chawky trays (wooden trays) using fine brush. Provide wet foam strips around and prepare a compact bed. Give another feeding in the bed. Cover with paraffin paper and stack the trays one over the other on the stand. Up to 20 laying can be brushed in a tray of 90 x 60 cm.

Feeding schedule (for 100 laying)

Instar Leaf position from the tip Quantity of leaf, kg Larvaldurationdays
1 2nd and 3rd 2-2.5 3-4
2 3rd, 4th and 5 th 6-7 2-3
3 5th, 6th and 7th 25-30 3-4
4 Lower leaves 75-80 4-6
5 Still lower leaves 600-650 6-7
At the end of each instar, larvae stop feeding and cast off old skin in 18-30 hours. When the worms set for moulting, paraffin paper should be removed and spread on the bed to dry up. If there are more feeding worms, a light and thin feeding may be given. All the worms settle in 6-8 hours. During moulting, worms should not be disturbed and full ventilation should be provided. Feeding is resumed when 90% of worms have moulted. RKO powder is dusted over the worms 30 minutes before feeding. After two consecutive feedings, the larvae with the net are transferred to a new tray. Mature larvae stop feeding and prepare themselves for spinning. Its body becomes translucent, shrinks in length and constrictions appear on fourth and fifth segments. They move towards the periphery of the trays. Such worms are picked and transferred to Chandrika / Netrakae. About 1000 worms (400-450 larvae/m2) can be mounted in a mountage. Mount the entire larvae within a maximum period of 48 hours and provide sufficient ventilation during spinning. Cocoon should be harvested on the fifth and sixth day after mounting. In rainy and cold seasons, it should be delayed for one more day. The cocoons are collected from Chandrika and transported in light gunny bags to cocoon market. The cocoon should be marketed immediately after harvest, so as to avoid adult emergence. Under average conditions, 100 dfls of bivoltine will yield 40-60 kg cocoons and cross breed will yield 30-50 kg cocoons.


It is the most destructive disease caused by protozoa, Nosema bombyscis. The worms become very dull and they have poor appetite, irregular moulting and the skin becomes wrinkled.

Caused by bacteria, promoted by high temperature, high humidity and ventilation, bad leaf quality, over feeding and low alkalinity of the gut. Digestive and circulatory systems are damaged and the symptoms are loss of appetite and diarrhoea.

Mostly seen in riping larvae. Caused by Borrlina virus. Infection is induced by extreme low and high temperature. Swelling of the inter-segmental region, shining skin, rupture of body wall, oozing of body fluid and endless crawling are symptoms. Such worms do not moult and spin.

The fungi Beauveria bassiana, Spicaria prasina and Isaria farinosa are causal agents. The infected larvae lose appetite. Specks of oozing oily substance without any clear-cut margins appear on the skin. Body generally hardens and becomes stiff.

Prevention and control
1. Disinfect the rearing room and equipment before rearing.
2. Use only disease free layings from authorized agencies.
3. Dip the egg cards in 2% formalin solution for 20 minutes before incubation.
4. Collect undersized larvae and destroy regularly by burning or burrowing in soil.
5. Feed good quality leaves of correct stages.
6. Avoid over feeding and under feeding
7. Clean the bed every day and burn the infested litter.
8. Use RKO powder at every moulting before resumption of feeding.
9. Maintain humidity only to the desired level.


Uzi-fly (Trycholyga bombycis)
It is a serious parasite of silkworm larvae and pupa causing heavy loss. Adult is a large fly with prominent black and gray stripes. The fly prefers later instars to the earlier ones for oviposition.


Prevent the entry of fly into the rearing room by providing wire mesh or nylon net on doors and ventilators. Burn the pest-affected larvae. Apply chlorpyrifos on the ground and crevices of walls of rearing house. Other pests are ants, lizards, rats



KISSAN Kerala Operations Centre, IIITM-K, NILA, Techno park Campus, Thiruvananthapuram

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