Role of Applied Ecology in Pest Management
Dr. Hadi Husain Khan1, Nirmal Chandra Ghose2, Mofiul Islam3, Mehtubuddin Ahmed4, Nur Alom Sarkar5, Afsar Ali Khan6 & Saiful Islam7
1Research Associate, ICAR-DRMR-APART, Dhubri -783324 (Assam), India.
2SDAO (HQ)-Cum-Nodal Officer, ICAR-DRMR-APART, Dhubri – 783324 (Assam), India.
3Deputy Project Director, CSS-ATMA, Dhubri -783324 (Assam), India.
4, 5, 6 & 7Assitant Technical Manager, District Agricultural Office (ATMA), Dhubri – 783324 (Assam), India.
Environmental worries over pesticides prompted the creation of Ecological Pest Management. This is aimed to change crop protection strategy by requiring a greater understanding of insect and seed ecology, culminating in a programme that emphasized the usage of a variety of complementary techniques rather than unilateral pesticide intervention. Ecological theory was meant to be the bedrock for forecasting how specific improvements in manufacturing processes and inputs will impact pest problems. Ecology was believed to play a role in the development of pest-resistant agricultural systems. In such schemes, pesticides should be used in conjunction with natural regulatory mechanisms. The ecological foundations of pest management have been the subject of several publications and research by academics (South wood et al.1970; Price and Waldbauer 1975; Pimentel and Goodman 1978). Despite all of this early work, which provided much of the required ecological foundations, most Ecological Basis programmes devolved into “intelligent pesticide management” schemes that struggled to bring ecologically-based theory into practice.
Instead of focusing on why agro ecosystems are vulnerable and how to make them more pest-resistant, the focus has been on pest control strategies and reducing crop destruction. A core component of redesigning the agro ecosystem by ecological engineering is the shift from linear, relationships between target pests that are one-to-one and a single management tactic to networks of relationships between insect pests, related natural enemies and schemes to diversify crops. Pest issues are avoided by strengthening the agro ecosystem’s defenses, and pest control operations are combined with other agricultural practices that sustain soil fertility and crop health around the same time as maintaining food security and affluence. While it is crucial to comprehend the auto-ecological factors that contribute to pests’ ease of adaptation and succeed in agro ecosystems, pinpointing what makes agro ecosystems vulnerable to pests is even more critical. By designing agro ecosystems that both works against the pests’ performance and are less vulnerable to pest invasion, farmers can substantially reduce pest numbers.
Key Elements of Ecological Pest Management
1. Crop management: Within and around crop fields, above-ground habitat conservation and biodiversity enhancement are significant. Maintain biodiversity, stress pests, and/or increase beneficial species using a range of activities or techniques. The practices described below should be used:
a. Choose crops that are suited to your environment and soil.
b. Choose pest-resistant, local varieties, and well-adapted cultivars
c. In crop rotations that depend on legumes, rotate botanically unrelated crops.
d. Use cover crops intensively.
e. Manage field borders and in-field ecosystems (ecological islands) to attract beneficial insects while trapping or confusing pest insects.
f. Use proper sanitation management
g. Intercropping and agro forestry programmes are worth considering.
2. Soil management: Conservation and improvement of below-ground habitat. To stress pests, improve beneficially, and/or provide the best chemical, physical, and biological soil habitat for crops, build healthy soil and preserve below-ground biodiversity. The practices described below should be used:
a. Use crop residues, manures, and composts to create and preserve soil organic matter.
b. Reduce soil disturbance (Tillage)
c. Use crop residue or live plants to cover the soil.
d. Use cover crops routinely
e. Rotate crops for longer periods of time to raise microbial communities in the soil and break disease, insect, and weed cycles.
f. Maintain sufficient nutrient levels for crops while preventing plant imbalances that could make them more susceptible to insects and diseases.
g. Maintain appropriate pH
h. Prevent nutrient losses and soil erosion. i. Avoid soil compaction-causing activities.
3. Planned supplemental pest management practices: If research and farmer experience suggest that additional unique pest control strategies are required in addition to the above-mentioned systematic preventive management, the practices described below should be used:
a. Release beneficial insects or use bio-pesticides which are least detrimental to the ecosystem.
b. Prune to minimize canopy humidity and prevent fungal infections.
c. Plant protection by cultivating based on essential competition time information.
d. Additional soil activities designed to reduce crop stress and/or increase yield and efficiency:
e. Check to see if the soil is well hydrated (i.e., with careful irrigation scheduling).
f. Leave a mulch cover instead of including orchard cover crops.
g. Under sow legumes in cereals.
4. Reactive inputs for pest management: Release beneficial species or apply low-impact bio-pesticides if pest populations are above threshold and beneficial populations are low by using preventive and planned management methods.
5. Reactive inputs to reduce plant stress: The practices described below should be used:
a. Use chisel plow or sub-soiler to alleviate soil compaction.
b. As soon as plant deficiency signs appear, apply nutrients to the soil or foliage.
Ecological Principles for Managing Crops Pests:
In general, sustainable pest management practices adhere to one or more of the following guidelines:
a. Promote biodiversity.
b. Create healthy crop habitats.
c. Reduce disturbance to soil and non-crop vegetation. d. Minimize off-farm inputs.
Applying Ecological Principles to the Farm: Ecological management aims to minimize pest abundance to tolerable levels by using a variety of pest control strategies that are integrated with crop and soil management.
When you integrate multiple control tactics, your production system benefits in the following ways:
a. When individual techniques are combined, their effects are amplified.
b. The risk of crop failure is reduced because you are spreading the burden of crop protection across many tactics.
c. Environmental disruptions and threats to human health are minimized.
d. The ability of pests to develop resistance or adapt to specific strategies is slowed.
e. By reducing the need for imported inputs, maintenance costs are minimised and profitability is increased when properly integrated.
The major ecological way to management of crop pest in farm: The practices described below should be used:
a. Grafting and Selecting Resistant Varieties.
b. Include Natural and Semi-Natural Habitats on the Farm.
c. Enhance Natural Enemies.
d. Manage Soil to Produce Healthy Crops.
e. Minimize Agricultural Disturbances on the Farm.
f. Create Multiple Stresses for Pests.
g. Reduce Excess Sources of Nitrogen.
h. Beyond Pest Management.
Conclusions: Agroecological approaches to pest management for sustainable agriculture, emphasizes on the incorporation of ecological principles into pest management while ensuring high productivity and profitable harvests without causing harm to the environment. The restructuring of the crop production system to incorporate preventative ecological measures that keep organisms from reaching pest status is the longterm pest management strategy. The use of biological processes has been given emphasis for agroecological crop protection through biodiversity while also preserving as well as improving soil health (fertility, biological activity, structure, etc.). The preventive strategies [above- and below – ground habitat management (crop/soil management)] rather than reactive strategies form the basis of agroecological pest management.
Finally, understanding the long-term effects of semi-natural habitats, including field margins, on natural enemies and pests on field and landscape level is important, if habitat manipulation is to be a viable and widely used tool for improving natural pest control.
1. Pimentel, D. and Goodman, N. (1978). Ecological basis for the management of insect populations. Oikos, 422-437.
2. Price, P. W. and Waldbauer, G. P. (1975). Ecological aspects of pest management (pp. 37-73). John Wiley & Sons, New York.
3. Southwood, T. R., Way, E. M. J., Rabb, R. L. and Guthrie, F. E. (1970).”Concepts of pest management.” 6-28.