Overview of Sustainable Pest ManagementBy Dr. Vinaya Tari
GauEcoGram Agrovikas Producer Ltd
E-mail: [email protected]
Chemical pesticides are the dominant source of soil contamination. Evidence shows non-targeted species gets impacted more due to chemical pesticides than targeted species. Only about 1% of pesticide reaches the target pest and the rest of it induces contamination of the environment (Amoabeng 2014, Tyler and Miller, 2004). Much of the pesticide residuals also reaches the aquatic ecosystem through runoff (Tashkent 1998). Spraying of chemical pesticides also unintentionally contaminates neighbouring habitats and the atmosphere through drift and evaporation (PMEP 1993, Tashkent 1998, Gil and Sinfort 2005).
The bumblebee is one of the most important pollinating insects for our agriculture. However, these bees are now becoming victims of agricultural pesticides (Coke, 2012). Too much exposure to pesticides is also a health risks to farmers (Roy 2013, Wesseling et al 2001, Konradsen et al 2003, Coronado et al 2004). A study showed that although 15% of global pesticides are used in developing countries, nearly 75% of deaths happen to farmers due to pesticidal poisoning in these countries (Amoabeng et al 2014). Misuse of pesticides often causes health problems and contamination to the environment (Soares et al 2003, Mancini et al 2005, Remor et al 2009).
It is reported that approximately 3 million agro sector workers are experiencing pesticide related poisoning per year throughout the world, while nearly 20,000 deaths are directly associated with agrochemical use (Amoabeng 2014).
Natural control of pests
Natural control of pests can be maintained by various methods such as clean cultivation, ploughing, planting of pest resistant crop varieties, crop rotation, pruning, planting and harvesting times (Awasthi 2007). Natural controls over the pests can be also achieved by maintaining enemies of pests on fields, use of integrated pest management (IPM) practices, biotechnological techniques, and genetic engineering etc, by virtue of which sustainable agriculture and residue free food materials can be produced.
Natural enemies of pests
Bio control of pests was first used in China in the third century AD (Walter 2003). Biocontrol means use of biological agents in agriculture such as pathogens, parasites, and predators of pest species to mitigate problems with pests, so that it is the pest and not the ecosystem that is impacted (Mongillo John et al 2004; Awasthi 2007). Recently, farmers are also using seeds from resistant plants (Pest control and Preservation, Britannica 2007). According to De Bach P. et al approximately 99% of crop pests are controlled by different natural enemies (De Bach P. 1991). Multiplication of parasites that kill fruit crop pests can be achieved through pest control and management. For example: colonies of tailor ants (Oecophylla smaragdina) can be introduced in citrus trees, so that these ants prey on insect pests and this technique is already practiced in China (Walter 2003).
Integrated pest management (IPM)
IPM is a process of eradication of all relevant pests at the predetermined area (Walter 2003).
At the time of mating one can use pesticide to kill the insects, thereby maximum damage to the pests and minimizing the effect on the other species (Taylor et al 1997).
Artificial sex pheromones (the substances which are produced by organisms to attract mates) can be sprayed to trap the insects. Once captured, the pests can be killed with limited use of pesticides or sterilized with the help of Gamma rays (Walter 2003, Mongillo John et al 2004, Taylor et al 1997).
There are several benefits of adopting sustainable pest management practices. First and foremost, it keeps agricultural fields free from chemical pesticides. In addition, the practice helps to maintain soil quality, soil micro-flora and micro-fauna, zero contamination of water resources due to agricultural runoff, pesticide residue-free production and enhancing the quality of agricultural produce and reduce pesticide poisoning incident. In 2008 Nidani Agricultural Development Officers of Haryana, India conducted an agricultural project named ‘Know the insect before killing them’. The evidence from that project showed that due to application of alternative technique to chemical pesticide, the agricultural production increased by 10% and profit margin increased by 25% compared to the farmers those who all used chemical pesticide.
Hence, adoption of sustainable pest management practice is not only an environment-friendly way forward, but it can also prove to be economical too.
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