Dr. M. Sivaswamy
Head & Principal Scientist
Phone: 0423-2234796
FAX: 0422-2230463
E-mail: head_well[at]iari[dot]res[dot]in, iariwheatsiva[at]rediffmail[dot]com

The station located in a breath holding picturesque valley of Wellington in the Nilgiri district of Tamil Nadu state in India was established during 1954 under "Coordinated Wheat Rust Control Scheme" of ICAR. This station was initially established on the land taken on lease from the defense ministry and later on it was decided at the highest level in the Prime Minister's secretariat to transfer the defense ministry land permanently to ICAR. Thanks to the recommendations of noble laureate Dr. N.E. Borlaug made in a letter to the prime minister of India which saved repossession of this station by the defense ministry in 1988. Since the Nilgiri hills where this station is located, act as the main source of inoculum for stem and leaf rusts of wheat upto central India, control of the these pathogens at this source area is very important to prevent rust epiphytotics in target areas particularly peninsular and central India. Wellington was therefore created with a mandate to produce rust resistant varieties of wheat, particularly of dicoccum wheat for widespread cultivation in south India in general and southern hills in particular to cut down the initial wheat rust inoculum that is wafted from southern Indian hills to peninsular and central India. The first dicoccum wheat in India named as NP 200 was developed here from a local collection of Rishi valley, Andhra Pradesh. This station played a very significant role in carrying forward the green revolution in India as seed of CIMMYT dwarf wheat varieties brought first time from Mexico was multiplied here in summer of 1962 and the same seed was used for laying out small scale demonstrations in 1962-63 rabi season at Delhi. Because of availability of rust inoculum and favorable climate for wheat cultivation throughout the year, the wheat scientists in India used Wellington centre to screen their materials for disease resistance, advancing generations, initial seed multiplication of important strains and for making fresh crosses. In due course of time, this station has therefore, blossomed into an excellent off - season nursery center for wheat and several other winter crops for the entire country.

 

Famous international wheat scientists like Dr. Norman E. Borlaug, Dr. R. G. Anderson, Dr. M. S. Swaminathan, Dr. R. A. McIntosh, Dr. Watson, Dr. Roy Johnson etc. have been regular visitors to this station. Backcross programme involving precious materials received from renowned wheat geneticist Dr. R. N. Sawhney was initiated here in mid eighties. That led to transfer of desirable resistance genes conferring total or moderate resistance to black and brown rusts. Alien genes which were transferred were interestingly dominant and only 4-5 back crosses were enough to get them transferred in several high yielding commercial cultivars which otherwise had become vulnerable to rust pathogens. The backcross programme is still continuing and gene transfer has been undertaken in almost all the released wheat cultivars in India. This programme has resulted in development of several socalled "unnath" (developed) wheat varieties seeds of which were supplied to all wheat breeders, pathologists and other related scientists in the country. Through the inter-institutional co-operation, several varieties incorporated with Lr24/Sr24, Lr 19 and Sr 25 were released. To name few of those are HW 2004 for central zone, HW 2045 for north east plain zone, MACS 6145/HW 2034 for peninsular zone and Sonak for north west plain zone.

 

Initially station had only 7.5 acres land, however 36.0 acres was later taken on lease from ministry of defence(now transferred permanently to ICAR). Dr. Anderson from Rockfeller foundation levelled the land with the help of bulldozers and most of the terraces available now were laid out. Recently a piece of barren land measuring about 5 acres and lying in abandoned state for the last 50 years has also been converted into a well managed farm area. The station is used as a natural phytotron by the wheat scientists for screening against wheat diseases particularly rusts and white rusts of brassica. There is a battery of glass houses available at this station for undertaking work on rust pathotyping and rust resistance gene postulation. Six new polyhouses with autoregulated temperature and humidity facilities will be erected with the fund allotted under 11th Plan budget of IARI. Station also owns two laboratory cum office complexes, a pucca threshing floor, seed storage rooms, underground irrigation system covering the entire farm area and well equipped rest house accommodating 12 persons. The Mandates of the Station are:
  • Organization of national off - season nursery mainly for wheat, barley and triticale. Facilities are also extended to other crops namely mustard, pea, lentil, safflower, sugarcane etc.
  • Breeding disease resistant and high yielding wheat cultivars suitable for cultivation under agro - ecological conditions of southern hills
  • Wheat rust pathotyping and rust resistance gene postulation
  • Pyramiding of genes for durable rust resistance in popular high yielding Indian wheat cultivars
  • Popularisation of rust resistant cultivars in southern hill ranges with a purpose to curtail reservoir of primary rust inoculum responsible for rust epiphytotics in peninsular and central India
  • Discerning genetics of rust resistance in Indian wheat germplasm through phenotyping rust response using pathotypes prevailing in southern hills, central and peninsular India
  • Co-ordination of All India Wheat & Barley Improvement Trials in southern hill zone.

 

 
Initial view of farm and office building
 
Rest house in the scenic lap of Nilgiri hills