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A Contribution of ICAR National Fellow Project

दीमक से बचाव के लिए देशी तकनीकPopularising the Termitexpert web-portal

General/ITM(Horticulture)


Managing Termites in Horticulture Plantations

Termites are cellulose eating insects which cause huge economic damage to agri-horticultural crops, trees and timber-in-service. Damage is more common where crops/plants are under stress. Collapse of even a large tree is not a rare case if not taken proper care in time. Well grown trees and crops with good care are found hardly ever attacked by termite even though they are present in the vicinity.

Termite damage in horticulture plants: different stages

Seedlings: Termites build mounds under/above ground of various size & shape, often containing thousands of individuals; they construct shallow subterranean foraging mud tunnel and galleries radiating from the nest upto a distance of 50m even. They forage directly on underground plant material; seedlings are either cut just below or above the soil surface.

Mature plants: Subterranean termite species enter and consume the root system, lowers yield through decreased translocation of water and nutrients. Termite attack to the root system also leads to increased vulnerability to pathogens. Tree trunks are attacked by termites via mud-tunnels.

General management practices

Cropping pattern/rotation:

In annual vegetable (also ornamental) crops, right rotation especially including fallow periods is recommended. In tree-crops like litchi and mango, an indigenous technique of planting turmeric around the tree-basin is said to repel the termites.

Soil management:

  • Deep summer ploughing is recommended before the onset of monsoon.

  • Well decomposed FYM is to be applied to the field.

  • Pre-planting tillage also destroys the tunnels built by termites and restricts their foraging activities and also reduces their damage to crops.

Tillage, irrigation and mulch management:

  • Border/bunds on perimeter should essentially be made clean of weeds, and cultivated deep, and soil is drenched with recommended insecticides.

  • Crude method of termiticide application (mostly chlorpyriphos) in the irrigation channel should be avoided.

  • Removing dry sticks, stubbles, bamboo sticks etc. in the field, using well rotten manure, application, avoiding crop residues.

Miscellaneous management:

  • Substituting bamboo sticks for use as labeling pegs/boards etc. may be substituted with plastic ones.

  • Treating bamboo pegs by dipping/soaking in 1% of chlorpyriphos solution.  Coal-tar coating is good for long-term protection.

  • Treating fence posts, pegs with hot coaltar creosote (three-coat brushing); or soaking for few hours in the open tank over a slow fire followed by air-drying for few days.

  • Using nylon ropes in place of normal plastic rope. Treating coconut ropes and sun hemp ropes with coaltar creosote solution for making them termite resistant.

  • Attend and treat the border, fence areas.

  • Use only well rotten manure to reduce termite incidence. Do not leave crop residues, dry sticks, stubbles, bamboo sticks etc. in the field. Keep the field clean.

  • Bamboo sticks for use as labeling pegs/boards etc. may be substituted with plastic ones. If bamboo pegs are to be used at all, then treat (dipping & soaking) with 1% of chlorpyriphos essentially.

  • Crop residues are cleared off the field, as this harbours and promotes termite infestation in the next season crop.


Last Updated: 04-01-2020

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