Precision Farming in Bottle Gourd

by on in Farms, Precision Farming

Precision Farming in Bottle Gourd

Author:Dr M.Prabhakar (IIHR retd)

Bottle gourd has always been regarded as one of the healthiest veggies. This very versatile vegetable is full of water (about 92%) and minerals and keeps your body hydrated. Bottle gourd is a vegetable high on water and is a rich source of vitamin C, K and calcium. Bottle gourd contains almost 96% of water and is perfect for juice extraction. Bottle gourd juice is rich in Vitamin C, Vitamin B, sodium, iron and potassium. It has low fat and cholesterol level. As a result, this anti-oxidant drink is quite popular among health-conscious individuals. However, a word of caution before you consume bottle gourd juice:

  1. A small piece of bottle gourd should be tasted before extracting the juice to ensure that it is not bitter. If bitter, it should be discarded.
  2. Bitter bottle gourd juice should not be consumed at all.
  3. Bottle gourd juice should not to be mixed with any other juice.
  4. In case of discomfort after consumption (nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea or any feeling of uneasiness), the person should be immediately taken to a nearby hospital.

This advisory is based on the report of an expert committee of the Indian Council of Medical Research, chaired by S.K. Sharma, head of the Department of Medicine, AIIMS, which was set up to investigate the safety of consuming lauki juice.

Seed Variety Pusa Hybrid-3, Varadh, Kaveri, Anmol or Any popular commercial hybrids
Soil type well drained soils with a pH range of 6.0 to 7.0
Season June-July, February-March
Seed rate 500 g seeds
Land preparation Raised bed method: 10-15cm height, 90cm width, convenient length, 110 cm inter-bed spacing.
FYM application Apply 10 tonnes of enriched FYM.
Neem cake application Apply 10 to 12 % oiled neem cake @ 250kg.
Fertilizer Dose 30:25:30 kg N:P:K
Basal fertilizer application Apply 4-4-4 kg N: P: K (20 kg Ammonium sulphate + 23 kg Single super phosphate + 6 kg Muriate of potash). Mix well and level the beds properly.
Laying of drip line Place one in-line drip lateral at the center of the bed for which 2000 meter length of lateral pipe is required.
Polyethylene mulching 2000 meter length of mulch film of 1.2m width and 30micron thickness is required (65 kg).
Spacing, plant population and sowing Single crop row at the center of the bed. Make holes of 5cm diameter at a distance of 90cm. Around 2200 seeds can be sown in one acre.
Irrigation Run the drip irrigation daily for a duration of 20 to 40 minutes depending on the crop stage, season and emitter discharge.
Training Plants are supported with plastic tapes and trained on pendal or trellis.
Fertigation Schedule fertigation once in 3 days starting from 21 days after sowing and ending at 90 days after sowing for a 3½ month duration crop, thus requiring 26 fertigations.
Water soluble Fertilizers per fertigation (Once in 3 days) 0-14 days: No fertigation

15-30 days: 2.0 kg 19-19-19 /fertigation (6 fertigations)

33-51 days: 3.0 kg 19-19-19 +1.0 kg KNO3+1.0 kg CaNO3/fertigations (7 fertigations)

54-90 days: 4.0 kg 19-19-19 +1.0 kg KNO3+1.0 kg CaNO3/fertigation (13 fertigations)

(85 kg 19-all + 20 kg KNO3+ 20 kg CaNO3)

Foliar nutrition Give foliar sprays @ 5g/litre using foliar spray grade fertilizers containing Ca,Mg, Fe, Mn, B, Cu, Zn three times starting from 30 days after transplanting at an interval of 15 days
Harvesting and yield Harvest at tender stage, Yield: about 20 tonnes

Insect Pest management


Red pumpkin beetle














Symptoms: Adult beetles feed voraciously on the leaf lamina by making irregular holes. The maximum damage is done when the crop is in the cotyledon stage. The first generation is therefore more injurious than the subsequent generations. The adult insect also feed on the leaves of grown up plant by scrapping off their chlorophyll and make the leaves net like appearance.

Collect & destroy the pest daily if the pest is observed .

Dr. Dilip Nath has documented following traditional practices done by farmers in controlling red pumpkin beetles.

  • Cow dung in water solution sprayed over the crop (1: 5) : It acts as repellent against red pumpkin beetles.
  • Lime water: 250 gm lime poured in 15 lit of water, kept overnight and sprayed on next day in the canopy of cucurbit crops: Insect pest could not visit the field may be because of repellent action.
  • Mixed 100 gm of tobacco leaf with 250 gm turmeric powder in 15 lit of water and kept for overnight. Sprayed the mixture on next day to cucurbit crops : Due to antifeedant activity beetles cannot infest.

Chemical Control:Spray Dichlorvos 76 EC (1.2 ml/l)






















Leafminer adult Adult leafminers are small (2- 3 mm, 1/12- 1/8 in.), shiny black and yellow flies. Eggs are laid in the leaves, leaving small bronzed puncture marks. Vegetable leafminer damage is primarily caused by larvae feeding under the surface of leaves and petioles. This feeding causes long, narrow ‘mines’ which appear as white or grey lines on leaves. Higher levels of infestation affect the plant’s ability to photosynthesize, reducing plant growth and crop yields.


Monitor plant leaves closely. At the first sign of tunneling, squeeze the leaf at the tunnel between two fingers to crush any larvae. Done soon enough, this killing larva can allow plants to survive minor outbreaks. Pick off and destroy badly infested leaves in small gardens. Repeat at weekly interval 3-4 times.

Use yellow or blue sticky traps to catch egg laying adults. Cover soil under infested plants with plastic mulches to prevent larvae from reaching the ground and pupating.

In addition to the basal dose of neem cake application, Give neem cake (containing 8-10% oil) @100 kg/acre in 8-10 heaps 25 days after transplanting

Remove cotyledon leaves with leaf mining at 7 days after germination.

Remove leaf miner infected leaves at the time of planting. Repeat at weekly interval 3-4 times.

Spray Neem seed powder extract (4%) or neem/pongamia soap (1%), if required


Fruit fly




















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Symptoms: The fly attack is severe, especially after summer rains when the humidity is high. Maggots of this fly causes severe damage to young developing fruits. The adult fly lays eggs in the flowers. The eggs hatch into maggots, which feed inside the fruits and causes rotting.

Bagging: Each fruit is enclosed in an appropriately sized bag tied around the fruit stem. Alternatively, newspaper of an appropriate size can be rolled to enclose the fruit, then tied both around the fruit stem and at the free end. Bagging should begin when the fruit is small, shortly after the flower parts have fallen. This is one of the most effective method even though a tedious one. Highly recommended for your kitchen garden.

Mulching around the plant helps in avoiding fruit fly larvae entering the soil for pupation and exposing them for natural predation.

Remove all the infested fruits and destroy.

Soil application of neem cake @ 250 kg/ha immediately after germination and repeat at flowering followed by sprays of neem soap 1% or pulverized need seed extract (PNSPE) 4% at 10 days interval after flowering.

Erect cuelure (para pheromone trap) 12 per acre to attract and trap male fruit flies.

Crush pumpkin 1 kg and add 100 gm jaggery and 10 ml Malathion and keep in the plot (4-6 places per acre). Adults are attracted to the fermenting pumpkin and lay eggs and get killed. Repeat the process 2-3 times in the cropping season.

Give bait splash, 10g jaggary + Deltamethrin 1.0ml/l; 40 splashes/acre.

Grow maize as border crop as the flies have the habit of resting on such tall plants. Maize alone can be sprayed with insecticides.


Red spider mite











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Symptoms: They feed on the cell sap and cause yellowish white symptoms on leaves leading to wilting, burning and shedding.

Spray pulverized neem seed extract (PNSPE) (4%) or Wettable Sulphur 80WP (3.0 g/l) . Spray lower leaves and lower leaf surface thoroughly as mites are generally observed there.

Chemical Treatment: Spray Dicofol 18.5 EC (2.5 ml/l) or Quinalphos 25 EC (1.5ml/l) or Fenazaquin 10 EC (2.5 ml/l) or Fenpropathrin 30 EC (0.3 ml/l). Spray lower surface of the leaves where mites are generally found.













Symptoms: They suck the juice of the plant and damage the plant’s flowering ability. Leaves are also affected. The yield of a crop infested with thrips will be diminished.

Apply neem cake@ 100 kg at planting and after 30 days. Give neem cake (containing 8-10% oil) @100 kg/acre in 8-10 heaps 25 days after transplanting.

Spray PNSPE (4%) or neem/pongamia soap ( 8-10 g/l) at 10 days interval

Chemical Treatment: Spray Fipronil 5 SC (1.0ml/l) or Emamectin benzoate 5 SG (0.125 g/l) or Dimethoate 30 EC (2.0 ml/l)


Leaf eating caterpillar







Image result for "Leaf eating caterpillar" damage in + "bottle gourd"

Soil application of neem cake @ 250 kg/ha immediately after germination and at flowering followed by sprays of neem soap (1 %) or PNSPE (4%) at 7-10 days interval according to requirement.

Disease management


Powdery mildew









Symptoms: first appear as white powdery residue primarily on the upper leaf surface. On the lower surface of the leaves circular patches or spots appear. In severe cases, these spread, coalesce and cover both the surfaces of the leaves and spread also to the petioles, stem, etc. Severely attacked leaves become brown and shrivelled and defoliation may occur. Fruits of the affected plants do not develop fully and remain small.

Apply Wettable Sulphur (3.0g/l) or Carbendazim (1.0g/l) or Flusilazole (0.3 ml/l) or Dinocap (1.0 ml/l) or Hexaconazole (0.5 ml/l) or Difenoconazole (0.6 ml/l) three-four times at 15 days interval


Downy mildew











Symptoms.: The disease is first seen as yellow angular spots on the upper surface of the leaves. Under conditions of high humidity, whitish powdery growth appears on the lower surface of the leaves. The disease spreads rapidly killing the plant quickly through rapid defoliation.

Pre packed mixture of Pyroclostrobin + Metiram (2.5g/l) or Chlorothalonil (2.0 g/l) or Mancozeb (2.0 g/l) or Fosetyl-Al + Propineb (2.0 g/l) or Cymoxanil+ Mancozeb (2.0 g/l) at 10 days interval

Fusarium wilt










Symptoms.: Fusarium wilt is soil borne and may remain in the soil for several years at a time. Once infected, the fungus grows quickly in the host tissue, clogs the plant’s veins, and interferes with the transportation of plant water and nutrients. Fusarium wilt also prevents the plants from producing sufficient chlorophyll, so leaves may be pale, yellow, or yellow-white.

Follow Bio-Intensive Disease Management practices. Drenching of Bordaux mixture (1%) Pre packed mixture of Carbendazim+ Mancozeb (2.0 g/l)














Symptoms.: On mature leaves, small pale yellow, water-soaked areas emerge near veins and enlarge rapidly, turning tan to dark brown. The spots may coalesce, resulting in blighting, distortion, and death of entire leaves.

Spray Carbendazim (1.0 g/l) or Difenaconazole (0.6g/litre)

Harvesting and yield Harvest at tender stage, Yield: about 20 tonnes

Note: All recommendations and yields are for one acre area

*FYM Enrichment with Bio-fertilizers and bio-pesticide


Well decomposed Farm yard manure (one tonne) is thoroughly mixed Azotobacteror Azospirillum, Phosphate Solubilizing bacteria (PSB), Trichodermaharzianum or Trichodermaviridae, Pseudomonas fluorescens, Bacillus subtilis, Paecilomyceslilacinus or Pochoniachlamydosporia each @ 1 kg. This is then moistened by sprinkling water and covered with wet gunny cloth kept to incubate for about 3- 4 weeks (15-20 days). For better aeration and decomposition it is advised to give a turn in between at around 10-12 days. This enriched FYM should be mixed with remaining nine tonnes of FYM before applying to the main field.


**Neem cake Enrichment with Bio-fertilizers and bio-pesticide


Powdered neem cake (100 kg) with oil content (>10 %) is thoroughly mixed Azotobacteror Azospirillum Phosphate Solubilizing bacteria (PSB), Trichodermaharzianum or Trichodermaviridae, Pseudomonas fluorescens, Bacillus subtilis, Paecilomyceslilacinus or Pochoniachlamydosporia each @ 1 kg. This is then moistened by sprinkling water and covered with wet gunny cloth kept to incubate for about 10 days. If it is to be stored for a few more days, for better aeration and decomposition it is advised to give a turn. This enriched neem cake should be applied to the main field along with farm yard manure application at the time of bed preparation for planting. This enrichment is required, if enriched FYM was not used/applied.


***Poison baiting: Mix rice bran (10-12 kg/acre) with jaggery (gur) or molasses (2 kg) in the morning. Allow it to ferment till evening. In the evening, mix this with an insecticide like methomyl or thiodicarb (250 g) and broadcast in main plot. Cutworms get attracted, feed on the fermented poison bait and get killed. Baiting has to be repeated 2 or 3 times more if the incidence of the cut worm or armyworm is high.


Baking soda spray: Baking soda is a white soluble compound that has fungicidal properties when used as spray on diseased plants. It also serves as protectant (on plants) from disease-causing pathogens. Mix 1 tbsp of baking soda and 1 tbsp of dormant oil or vegetable oil. Add 4 liters of water and stir well. Add one tbsp of dish washing liquid soap and stir it again. Fill-in water can or sprinkler and spray. Stir or shake the container from time to time to prevent soda from separating. Repeat application every after 2 weeks. Apply baking soda spray as soon as the symptoms appear. Be sure to include the undersides of the plants’ foliage. Spray in the early morning or late afternoon.

Bordeaux mix: There are many copper compounds that are used as fungicides. The most common is Bordeaux mix which is a combination of copper sulphate and hydrated lime.

Copper sulphate, lime and water in the ratio 1:1:100 are used for preparing one per cent Bordeaux mixture. In order to prepare 100 Litres of mixture one kg of copper sulphate is dissolved in 50 Litres water. In another vessel one kg of fresh quick lime is slaked by sprinkling water and the volume of lime solution is made up to 50 Litres water. The copper sulphate solution is poured into lime solution by stirring the mixture. Both solutions can also be poured into a third vessel with constant stirring. The prepared Bordeaux mixture should be strained through a cloth/strainer before spraying.

Spray plants thoroughly preferably early in the morning, in a dry and sunny day. In this way, the plants have the time to dry and the solution can not penetrate into the leaves’ tissues. Constantly shake the sprayer while in the process of application to prevent the solution from clogging.


Cattle-dung and Urine Extract: Mix Cattle-dung (5 kg) and urine (5 liters) thoroughly in 5 liters of water in a container and allow this mixture for 4 days by keeping a lid over the container. After 4 days, filter and add 100 grams of lime to this solution. Dilute the solution in 80 liters of water, which is sufficient for spraying an acre. Spraying cow dung urine solution prevents eggs laying by the moth, e.g. Helivoerpa and Spodoptera, etc. It is found to give protection against some diseases and the sprayed crop looks green and healthy.


Tobacco Decoction: Boil 1 kg tobacco dust in 10 liters of water for 30 minutes to attain coffee red colour. Add water to the boiling solution to make 10 litres volume. Cool and filter the decoction using a thin muslin cloth. Add soap @ 2 g/l and dilute to 80 to 100 litres for spray. ? This preparation is effective against whitefly, aphids, and leafhoppers. Tobacco decoction should not be used frequently as it is toxic to natural enemies.


Precision agriculture, as the name implies, means application of precise and correct amount of inputs like water, fertilizer, pesticides etc. at the correct time to the crop for increasing its productivity and maximizing its yields. Precision agriculture management practices can significantly reduce the amount of nutrient and other crop inputs used while boosting yields. Farmers thus obtain a return on their investment by saving on water, pesticide, and fertilizer costs. Applying the right amount of inputs in the right place and at the right time benefits crops, soils and groundwater, and thus the entire crop cycle. Consequently, precision agriculture has become a cornerstone of sustainable agriculture, since it respects crops, soils and farmers.