Rice predator spiders

Spider are predators of many pest in rice field:

Atypena formosana (Oi.) – The smallest of all rice field spiders. Has a strong preference for young instar nymphs of hoppers. It can kill at least fifty second instar nymphs of green leafhoppers per day. Atypena belongs to the family Linyphiidae commonly known as dwarf spiders.
Oxyopes javanus (Thorell) – common name lynx spider, is a member of the family Oxyopidae. It is an excellent hunter of immature and adult rice insect pests because of its hexagonal eye pattern. An adult consumes two to three leaf folder moths per day.
Tetragnatha virescens (Okuma) and Tetragnatha javana (Thorell) – Six Tetragnatha species are common in rice fields. All are web builders belonging to the family Tetragnathidae. Of these, T. virescens Okuma and T. javana (Thorell) are the most common during the early vegetative growth stage of the rice plant.
Argiope catenulata (Doleschall) is a large, beautiful, web-spinning spider. Its large, sticky web is effective in catching flying pests, such as the short-horned grasshopper and other flies.

Stevia plants in Pakistan

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Stevia is cultivated in many countries, but China is the leading exporter of stevia products currently. Stevia provides an important role in biodiversity due to how little land is required to grow it, allowing farmers to diversify their crops.

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Unlike commodity crops, stevia is grown on smaller plots of land and provides supplemental income to more commonplace crops.

As stevia is intensely sweet, it typically requires only one-fifth of the land and much less water to provide the same amount of sweetness as other mainstream sweeteners.

There are 150 species of stevia, all native to South and North America.

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The sweetness of the stevia leaves is caused by eight glycosides contained within them. These glycosides are stevioside, rebaudioside A, C, D, E, and F, steviolbioside, and dulcoside A. Stevioside is the most abundant of these components; the leaves of some cultures contain up to 18 percent stevioside.

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Some of the common and trade names for stevia sweeteners are Enliten, PureVia, Rebaudioside A/Reb A, Rebaudioside B, Rebaudioside C, Rebaudioside D, Rebiana, Stevia, Steviacane, Steviol Glycosides, Stevioside, Stevia Extract In The Raw, and SweetLeaf.

Uses of Stevia

DANDRUFF AND HAIR HEALTH

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Stevia concentrate is believed to be beneficial for dandruff, dry scalp, and dull, dry and thin hair. People have noticed stronger, dandruff-free and rejuvenated hair after the regular use of Stevia. Simply mix 3-4 drops of Stevia concentrate into your regular shampoo and wash as normal. Also, after shampooing, using stevia tea as a conditioner and rinsing it out after 5 minutes can help retain natural hair colour and strength.

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DIABETES

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Studies show that Stevia may stabilize blood sugar levels, increase insulin sensitivity, may even promote insulin production by promoting the pancreas health, discourage glucose absorption in the blood, and inhibit candidiasis – a yeast infection that flourish with sugar. Stevia is a great low carb, low sugar and low calorie sugar alternative and the steviol glycosides are not metabolized by the body and are excreted in the urine without getting accumulated in the body. A Study also suggests that Stevia may inhibit the craving for sweet and oily or fatty foods.

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Drinking tea made with crushed raw Stevia leaves, or with its extract or tea bags two to three times daily may help with hyperglycemia. To make Stevia tea, heat – not boil one cup of water and let a tea bag or 1teaspoon of its leaves steep in it for 5 -7 minutes. Drink it hot or cold. Or 3-4 drops of Stevia extract can be added to warm or cold cup of water. Also stevia can be used as a natural alternative to any other artificial sweetener being used

GINGIVITIS

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Study shows that antibacterial properties of Stevia may help with gingivitis, cavities, tooth decay and mouth sores. It may suppress the development and reproduction of infectious organisms in the gums and teeth, inhibit the growth of plaque and may improve overall oral health. People who have used Stevia as a mouthwash has reported significant decrease in gingivitis and other mouth infections. Simply gargling with Stevia mouthwash and brushing with Stevia added toothpaste may be beneficial. To make Stevia mouthwash, add 3-4 drops of Stevia extract in half a cup of lukewarm water or steep half a cup of tea with its leaves or teabag and gargle three to four times daily especially in the morning and at night. For toothpaste, mix 2 drops of Stevia extract to the regular toothpaste.

HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE (HYPERTENSION)

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A few longer term studies done over a period of 1 and 2 years show that stevia may lower elevated blood pressure levels. Simply drinking Stevia tea twice daily may help stabilize the blood pressure levels.

OSTEOPOROSIS

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A study performed on chickens shows that by adding Stevia leaf powder to chicken feed it significantly increased calcium metabolism in the chickens and had 75% decreased eggshell breakage. A patent application for possible Osteoporosis treatment with Stevia suggests that stevia may help promote absorption of calcium in the body and help improve bone density. Suggested remedy is to make Alfalfa and stevia tea by steeping Alfalfa herb and Stevia half teaspoon each for 5-7 minutes. Drink it two to three times daily. Adding vitamin D powder to the tea or taking its supplements can be beneficial too.

WEIGHT LOSS

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Recent medical research suggests that low at carbohydrates, calories and sugar Stevia may be beneficial in weight management. One preliminary research suggests that Stevia may interfere with the functions of hypothalamus and may aid weight loss by curbing the hunger sensation. Hypothalamus is a part of the brain which controls hunger, thirst and fatigue along with its other functions. Anti-glycemic activity of Stevia may also control blood glucose levels which is one of the major causes of weight gain. Stevia works as a tonic to increase energy levels in people battling for weight loss. Suggested remedy is to drink one cup of Stevia tea or mix 10-15 drops of Stevia concentrate in one cup of cold or warm water. Drink it 15 minutes before every meal.

WRINKLES AND OTHER SKIN CONDITIONS

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Stevia is believed to be a remarkable healing agent for skin disorders. Its antioxidant, antibacterial and antiseptic activity may help with wrinkles, skin blemishes, dermatitis, eczema, acne outbreaks, scarring, rashes, itchiness and chapped lips. A small amount of Stevia concentrate applied directly onto the affected skin may promote the healing process. To smooth out the wrinkles, before going to bed, apply a paste made by crushed Stevia leaves or its liquid concentrate evenly all over the face and let it dry for fifteen to twenty minutes. Wash and pat dry your face and apply a few drops of extra virgin coconut oil on the face and leave it on over night to benefit from its antioxidant effects.

What are the Side Effects of Stevia?

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There are not any reported side effects of Stevia when taken in moderation. Based on intensive global researches and scientific reports, The World Health Organisation (WHO) of the UN and Food and Drug Administration of the US had approved the use of Steviol glycosides as safe and has established an acceptable daily intake of 4mg per kg of body weight. However, if you are taking any medication for diabetes or hypertension, due to its anti-glycemic and anti-hypertensive activity supervised Stevia consumption is advised. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, consult your physician before using Stevia therapeutically.

Where and How to Buy Stevia

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Stevia is available at organic grocery and herbal food stores in the form of raw dried leaves, white or green powder, sugar tabs, granulated or crystalline sugar, concentrate, and flavoured and nonflavourd liquids. When buying Stevia look for Stevia rebaudiana because it is considered the best type and the FDA approved steviol glycosides are extracted from this genus in the whole Stevia family.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The Best Winter Herbs to Grow

The winter can be frustrating for some. There’s fewer hours of daylight, the weather can be bone-chillingly cold, and you find yourself rotating between squash, brussels sprouts, and bread. It can get dull and repetitive.

But just because it’s colder, doesn’t mean you have to give up on your herb garden. Growing fresh food should be a thing you can do 365 days a year.

 

So, here are some herbs that do a little better in chilly weather—the perfect winter herbs to grow and eat.

Rosemary

Rosemary is a perennial herb, which means that it can be grown year-round, and sturdy enough to defend itself against icy temperatures. This herb will bloom throughout the year, and is one of the more affordable ones to grow and replace in the event that your plant kicks the bucket.

Rosemary pairs well with heartier meats like lamb and beef, and stands up to pungent flavors like garlic. On top of packing a punch in flavor, rosemary—particularly its oils—has been used to treat things like poor memory, migraines, digestive issues, and other such ailments.

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Parsley

Don’t underestimate the ubiquitous parsley plant; it’s more resilient than you might think. In harsher (cold) climates, parsley will hide underground to keep itself safe, but don’t worry—it’s still growing, however slowly. In milder winters, it will continue to bloom to provide a nice fresh kick to any dish.

A good tip is to grow lots and lots of parsley to counteract its slow growth over the winter. Because parsley self-seeds, it means that more plants will grow even if you stop planting new ones.

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Thyme

Like sage, thyme is also a great accompaniment to sage, as well as pork. These sturdy little shrubs will add brightness to your dishes few other herbs do thanks to its lemony tones. They will survive over the winter will little to no up-keep, though there will be very little growth as well.

Having said that, you should be careful not to cut all of your thyme shrub’s old growth, as that will prevent it from growing new leaves, taking away all of the plant’s reserves.

Thyme has also proven to serve medicinal purposes over history. Some studies suggest that the thyme oil can decrease inflammation and airway constriction caused by pulmonary diseases.

Mint

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Mint is a strong herb just like thyme. If you’ve ever grown mint, then you know that it’s imperative for it to be grown in a separate pot as it will take over the entire planter; those who plant their own herbs are never short of mint!

Think of mint like a weed. They grow wild, and they are hard to get rid of. Mint’s like that, except you want it to grow wild. Needless to say, this tough, resilient herb will continue to grow throughout the winter.

It’s a great herb to have around, as it is chockfull of vitamin C and iron. Mint has also proven to reduce digestive problems like irritable bowel syndrome due to its antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-fungal properties.

Winter savory

This one is pretty self-explanatory. Winter savory has a similar flavor to thyme, but leaves more of a tang. It’s great in many comfort meals great for the winter, like beef stew.

Basil

Like parsley, basil is one of the most popular herbs in the world. While every country seems to have their own variety (e.g. Thai basil), is common in world cuisines—from Italy (it’s the primary ingredient in pesto sauce) to Thailand—and it can add a kick to many salads.

Rich in vitamin K, A, potassium, and calcium, it’s no wonder it’s so popular. It helps to reduce inflammation, and studies have shown that it may help with symptoms of arthritis. Basil also contains a lot of anti-oxidants and antibacterial properties, which can help with cardiovascular health and inhibition of the growth of bad bacteria, respectively.

While these herbs will grow throughout the winter, the growth will be minimal and it’s important to bear that in mind so that you don’t harvest too much, otherwise there will be absolutely no new growth.

In an Urban Cultivator, though, you can grow herbs 365 days a year and guarantee abundant growth. Using hydroponic technology, the herbs that you grow in the Cultivator units are fresh and flavorful, and take as little as one week.

Cucumber production problems for research in Pakistan

(Mujahid Ali1, Dr. C.M. Ayyub1, Naheed Akhtar2)

(1Horticulture, UAF; 2Horticulture, DG Khan)

We have all kind of progressive growers in cucumber (Cucumis sativus) production in both open fields and tunnels. But our per acre yield is too low. Despite the fact that we have a large area for its production. We are unable to export, sometime even its price goes beyond the reach of common people. Moreover, we have year-round production due to tunnel farming system. Regardless of various resources in our country, we have the following major problems in the production of cucumber in Pakistan.

  1. Seed

A seed has prime importance in cucumber production. Without quality seed, a farmer can’t get a good yield. It is our dilemma that we could not introduce new varieties so there is just one dominant indigenous variety that is called “Desi-cucumber”. This variety is somehow resistant to heat stress and other stress, but its yield is low. In the tunnel, we are dependent on foreign hybrid seeds. So, we pay per seed price that is costly. Every season farmer purchases new seed. We should focus on its breeding to evolve high yielding varieties.

  1. Diseases

There are various diseases which affect our cucumber production like powdery mildew, downy mildew, bacterial wilt, anthracnose, angular leaf spot and some viral diseases like cucumber mosaic virus are destroying our crop. In tunnels, the fungal disease like downy or powdery mildew are dominant because of high humidity. So, in tunnels, frequent aeration is important simply by removing part of polythene during the daytime. So, our farmer pays huge on fungicides etc. Resistant varieties can solve this problem.

  1. Insect pest

Although we can control weeds by mulching, but insects are another problem. In a tunnel system, we can control to some extent. But in the open field, it is not possible. Some important insect pests are aphid, jasid, whitefly, beetles and thrips. These are most prominent in open fields. So, our farmer pays huge on insecticide/pesticides. Sometimes damage by it is so severe that the farmer gets nothing.

  1. Abiotic factors

The United States and Europe have a great focus on chilling injury, but we face mostly problem of heat stress in Pakistan in open fields.  Other than heat stress there are certain main problems e.g. salt stress, waterlogging and drought. These are management issues we can manage. But in open fields, we cannot manage heat stress which destroys its quality and quantity. We have to focus these problems in research regarding cucumber production.