Farm Table says:
What is the problem?
The excessive use chemical pesticides currently being used to control insect pests in rice cultivation has detrimental impacts on biodiversity, environment, animal, and human health. To reduce these impacts, cutting pesticide use from agricultural practices is needed. Researchers from India compared different insect pest management strategies, including those that did not use pesticides.
What did the research involve?
- Four treatment strategies were developed and applied in over 2,300 km2 of rice growing areas of Southern Bangladesh.
- Insects present in this study were dragon fly, damsel fly, spiders, lady bird beetle, staphylinid beetle, and the carabid beetle.
- Four insect control treatment strategies were tested
- treatment one was a continued application of insecticides were applied to rice fields every 15 days
- perching structures were installed to allow for perching of insectivorous birds while needs-based sweeping and insecticide applications were applied
- perching sites were installed but no sweeping or insecticides were applied
- individual farmers insecticide needs were applied for control of the major insect pest that was specific to that farmer’s fields.
- Field sweepings were done during the rice crop’s maximum tillering stage. The collected insect pest samples were sorted and statistically analysed.
What were the key findings?
Ali et al. (2017) showed that facilitating the presence of insectivorous bird life reduced the use of insecticides by 75% even if the field was infested with large insect pest populations.
Farmers’ got better results if they held back on insecticide applications for up to 30–40 days between applications to encourage higher predatory arthropod population numbers, which help keep pest populations in check.
Experimental results show that proper integrated pest management (IPM) cut pesticide use without any yield penalty.
- Monitoring of rice fields at 7–10 day intervals to check the levels of pest infestation was effective.
- Results indicate that encouraging perching of insectivorous birds while applying needs-based sweeping and insecticide applications management system minimized pest damage by increasing natural enemies and has environmental benefits.
- Refraining from applying insecticides to rice fields before 30-40 days after treatment beneficial insect activity enhanced the control of pest population build-up.
Higher grain yields were observed for each year in the plots, insectivorous birdlife was encouraged and furthermore, these practices reduce pesticide use from agricultural landscapes and improved environment quality.
This paper was summarised by Luke Stafford (Bachelor of Biological Sciences with Honours – Botany and Genetics Majors (La Trobe University) and reviewed by Nickala Best (PhD Student (La Trobe University). Learn more about Luke and Nickala here.