The Regional Agricultural Research Station, Ambalavayal was established in 1946 as a part of the Wayanad Colonisation Scheme, under the Madras presidency. It was brought under the Department of Agriculture with the formation of Kerala State in 1956. Considering the importance of horticulture in the tract, this station was elevated to the status of Central Horticultural Research Station in 1966 and subsequently it was transferred to Kerala Agricultural University in 1972. In 1983, with the implementation of NARP, the station was upgraded as Regional Agricultural Research Station with Cardamom Research Station, Pampadumpara as its satellite station. A Krishi Vigyan Kendra with a target group of tribal farmers started functioning in the station in 1982.
Mandate of the Station
The station is located at an altitude of 974 M above MSL, about 100 km. East of Calicut and 10 km. From Sulthan Bathery. The station enjoys a mild subtropical climate. The total area of the station is 87.3 ha and grows a wide variety of crops like coffee, pepper, rice including scented varieties, spices like ginger, turmeric, clove, cinnamon , tropical and subtropical fruits, summer and cool season vegetables. The station is assigned with the mandate of solving location, specific problems of horticultural and spice crops.
Lead functions : Pepper and pepper based cropping in high ranges, cool season vegetables, hill paddy, soil and water management, subtropical fruits and tree spices, coffee based cropping system.
Verification function : Essential oils, medicinal plants & ginger.
Ten farming situations have been identified in the high range zone as below.
1. Coffee in homestead gardens
2. Coffee as a pure crop
3. Inter cropping in young coffee and pepper plantation with annuals
4. Pepper as pure crop
5. Cardamom cultivation in forest lands
6. Tea plantations
7. Rubber plantations
8. Coffee + pepper mixed cropping
9. Annual crops in up lands
10. Annual crops in wet lands.
The station has undertaken elaborate studies on ginger. Out of the 31 varieties of ginger studies, Rio-de-Janeiro and Maran were found to be high yielding under rainfed conditions. Nadia and Thingpuri were found to be good for dry ginger production.
Highest percentage recovery of dry ginger was obtained from Maran. Riuo-de-Janeiro, Assam, Kuruppampady, Valluvanad and Ernad varieties were superior with regard to oleoresin content.
Organic amendments such as coconut oil cake, ground nut cake, seasamum cake and cashew shell when applied to the soil to give nitrogen requirement of 50 kg/ha were found to reduce the soft rot incidence of ginger caused by Pythium aphanidermalum.
Bacterial wilt of ginger could be effectively controlled by oil drenching and foliar spraying with 1% Bordeaux mixture at monthly intervals two months after planting.
Studies on soft rot incidence of ginger indicated that seed treatment with captan 0.2% is effective in controlling pre-emergence rhizome rot.
Among the 33 varieties of turmeric evaluated, PTS-9 was found to be promising.
Detailed studies of the floral biology and fruit set of vanilla have been made and technique of hand pollination was standardized. It was found that 97.5% to 100% success by hand pollination could be achieved if it is performed between 6 am to 6 pm.
Among the different methods of curing of vanilla bears Mexican process was found to be the most suitable one under Indian conditions which gave the attractive chocolate brown color, mild flavor and non-flexible texture, moderate shrinkage and 4.15 per cent vanilla.
The fungus which causes vanilla wilt was identified as Fusarium oxisporum. The disease could be controlled by sanitation, mulching and drenching with 0.5 per cent Bordeaux mixture.
All spice (Pimenta dioica) an important tree spices which jhas got the flavor and qualities of almost all the spices was found to be suitable for cultivation in Wayanad.
A high yielding variety of cardamom evolved by pure line seklection from Malabar type, (PV-1) has been released for cultivation, from Pampadumpara.
Cultivation of cardamom under artificial shade has been found to be feasible and economical.
The best season for rooting of laterals of black pepper was found to be the last fortnight of June followed by first fortnight of July.
Coorg mandarin orange budded on rough lemon root stock was found to be better than other combinations with respect to growth, yield and quality of fruits.
Studies with 27 mango varieties available in the station revealed that Prior and Dasheri are high yielders (75 kg/tree/year) prior, Pairi and Bennet Alphonso were found to be early bearing.
Stone grafting was found to be the best method of vegetative propagation in mango.
Bodies Altafort, a table variety of banana has been found high yielding under rained and irrigated condition. This has been recommended as a variety in Package of Practices of KAU for large scale cultivation in the zone.
Planting Nendran Banana in August gave highest bunch weight (8.380 kg/bunch) followed by October (8.20 kg/bunch), September (8.10 kg/bunch) and July (7.83 kg/bunch) plantings.
September variety of cabbage has been found desirable and has been recommended for general cultivation in the zone.
Pure line selection suited to high range situations were made from local varieties and released as WND I & WND II.
Rice variety, Edavaka having high grain/straw yield, good grain quality and suited for both cropping seasons was developed at the station.
Time of planting of medium duration rice varieties have been standardized. Planting during the first week of August for the first crop and first week of January for the second crop was found to give higher yields. The results are being adopted by farmers in the district. The station was responsible for introducing 4th scented rice variety, Pusa basmati-1 in Wayanad and was found to be promising in Wayanad and can be successfully cultivated in Wayanad during first and second crop season.
In the rice based farming system, rice followed by ginger was found most remunerative, which is being adopted in the rice fallows in the districts.
Inter cropping trials in eucalyptus plantations with ginger, turmeric and lemongrass showed that the yield of oil was higher from plots where lemon grass and ginger were inter cropped.
The results of pruning in eucalyptus indicated that maximum leaf and oil yields were obtained when plants were pruned at an interval of eight months. The percentage of recovery was found to decrease when pruning was done earlier or later.
Activities of the Station
Seed & Nursery programme
Seed and nursery programme aims at the production and distribution of quality seeds and planting materials of paddy, vegetables, spices, fruits and ornamental plants. The production of pepper rooted cuttings, clove and nutmeg is taken up under Central Sector Scheme. Eight nursery structures were constructed under the Central Sector Scheme. A climate controlled green House has been constructed at this station. Rapid multiplication technology is now adopted fro the production of planting materials of recently released varieties of pepper. The sale receipts from the nursery has exceed 12 lakh annually.
Plant Biotechnology Center
A plant biotechnology centre was started at this station for the large scale production of planting materials of spices and other plantation crops. The centre concentrates on the mass production of high value crops like vanilla, all spice and ornamental crops like anthurium, orchids, etc.
AICRP on Spices
This station is identified as centre under the All India Co-ordinated Research Project on Spices by ICAR. Two projects viz. Multilocational trial on black pepper and Multilocational trial on cinnamon are allotted to this station.
Agrometeorological Advisory Service
An agrometeorological advisory service is functioning at this station as an externally aided project.
Dairy and Rabbitory
A small dairy and rabbitory unit is functioning at the station for demonstration-cum-training purposes.
A mushroom unit is functioning at the station. Training on mushroom production as well as distribution of mushroom spawn is carried out under this unit.
Research and Extension Activities
18 approved research projects on various crops like spices, rice, vegetables, coffee, medicinal plants, rubber (collaborative with Rubber Research Institute, Kottayam) are in operation at the station. The station is rendering agro advisory services to the farmers at the station and also in the field on problems, brought by the farmers and the extension personnel’s. The station in association with KVK imparts training (both on campus and off campus) on various aspects of crop and animal husbandry to the farmers, extension works of the development departments, banks etc. Joint field visits with officials of the department of Agriculture on specific problem is also done. The scientists of the station are also involved in the Peoples Campaign for democratic planning. The Head of station is a member of the DLEC, Member of expert committee on Agriculture at the district level and also Chairman of the expert committee on Agriculture at Block level. The other scientists are members of BLEC and expert committee on Agriculture at Block Level.
The office & laboratory building are very old and small and quite inadequate to accommodate the scientists, staff, laboratory, library, computer and documentation. The storage facilities for the various farm produces and seeds produced in the station are also quite insufficient.
The station has got a NARP hostel, conference hall, three scientist quarters and one duplex quarters for administrative staff.
The station is provided with 2 tractors, one power tiller, and farm implements like rotovator, disc plough, paddy thresher etc.
The district has high floral and faunal diversity. However the ecosystem of Wayanad is subjected to great stress, human as well as natural. Forest degradation and high input crop pattern has substantially altered the ecosystem. The district now has two climatic zones, the dry zone lying in the east and the wet zone lying in the western parts of the district. Introduction of new crops on massive scale has significantly reduced the ground the ground water level and certain parts of the district faces draught situation.