Pests and diseases are known enemy of farmers; this is due to their deleterious effects in crop production. Aside from poor management practices, pests and diseases have the potential to reduce yield and make a profitable farm enterprise run at loss.
It is quite impossible to do away or get rid of pest and disease completely from a farm, however, they can be controlled and kept at a reasonable level that has little or no impact on the crop yield. This is best achieved through an integrated pest management programme.
There are several ways to control pests and diseases in crop production with respect to the type of cultivation practice adopted, either organic or inorganic. when you operate an inorganic farm, the use of herbicides and pesticide is common in controlling pests and diseases; however, an organic farmer who sternly abhors the use of chemical will adopt the use of organic pesticides and various examples of integrated pest management to control pests and diseases.
Pest in agriculture has a broad meaning; weeds, insects, and nematodes are the major pests, others are human activities and harsh weather conditions. Diseases are the results of the infestation of these pests. In this article, the focal point is weeds, insect and nematode control. Uncontrolled pests deprived the sown crop of several benefits such as water, nutrient, and space for growth. These are the essential need for a crop to thrive and yield optimally.
The definition of integrated pest management is multifaceted; it is basically an aggregate of methods used in combating the outbreak of pests and diseases. Integrated pest management programme is a technical approach of controlling pests and diseases using a variety of approaches or methods that eliminate pests from the farm.
It is simply a combination of different forces aimed at managing the deleterious effects of pests to minimize economic loss. there are different examples of this pest control method that can be adapted for any system of cultivation, both organic and inorganic.
Examples of integrated pest management
- Planting of pest-resistant planting material with regular manual weeding in an organic farm
- Timely cultivation and early harvesting time to evade pest pressures and post-harvest loss
- Crop rotation or intercropping to distort the growth and development of pests.
- Pest population control through early planting, use of pesticide and introduction of a natural enemy (Biological pest control)
How an Integrated Pest Management Programme works
Planting resistant planting material and regular manual weeding as an integrated pest management example is one of the effective methods of pest control. Some planting materials have been genetically altered to resist some pest and disease attack with a reasonable yield at the end of cultivation.
Pest attack would not be a major problem in such farm but weed; hence, manual weeding can be adopted in an organic farm or the use of herbicides in the conventional farming system.
Another integrated pest management example is timely cultivation and early harvesting. This approach is one of the cheapest methods of pest control. Timing plays an important role in crop cultivation; any farmer that can successfully manage planting time prudently can successfully manage pest attack.
The activity of pest and the emergence of diseases in most cases are determined by the time of cultivation. Planting during the rainy season can be cheap but tedious. This is because, during the rainy season, there is a high emergence of disease and less activity of pest.
The high soil moisture content and relative humidity favor the growth of fungi; fungi are responsible for about 70% of the total plant diseases. Hence, there is high emergence of diseases at the beginning and middle of the cultivation.
On the other hand, planting during the dry season seems to be the best as farmers experience little or no disease incidence, relatively high yield, and profit but high pest attack. Pests are very active during the dry season and tend to attack any succulent plant material. Hence, the use of pesticides or biological control, the introduction of natural pest enemy can be very effective here.
Under an integrated pest management programme, a farm manager is expected to harvest early during the rainy season because the period of harvesting is the beginning of pest emergence due to the reduced rainfall during this period.
Pest population as an integrated pest management example can be reduced by applying pesticides and the introduction of a natural enemy of the pest called biological pest control method. Example of the natural enemy of pests is chicken; chicken can help reduce the population of grasshopper, nematodes and other insect pests on the farm.
This method of pest control has been proven very effective because of the nature of its operation. At times, some pests are very hardy and rigorous that the use of one pest control method cannot adequately eradicate the pest from the field. Therefore, the use of two or more methods is best in the control of such pest.
Also, some pests develop resistance to some method of pest control, mostly use of herbicides or pesticides; hence, combining the use of herbicides and biological control or early planting can be very effective in this regard. The relativity and ease of pest control, in terms of cost and effectiveness, is the major advantage of an integrated pest management programme.
The way pests react to control measures varies with the effectiveness of the method adopted.
Let us take a look at pesticides:
You can apply a particular pesticide on your field to control a particular pest and notice that the pests still prevail; why?
It is not because the pesticide is not effective; it is simply because the pests in question have higher immunity or resistance to the pesticide. The immunity is as a result of the low level of concentration of the pesticide applied in relation to the high level of the concentration or resistance of the pests on the field.
You can also apply a pesticide to control some pests on the farm and notice the absence of the pest for some period and later their emergence in a more vigorous and virulent manner. Why?
This case is different from the first one because it is obvious that the pesticide actually controlled the pests to some extent but not completely. The concentration of such pesticide can only suppress the pests but not eliminate or control them below the economic level; perhaps, an increase in the concentration of such herbicide could lead to more effective action.
Lastly, you can apply a particular pesticide and observe a complete eradication or control of the pests on your farm. This is because the concentration of the pesticide is high enough to resist the immunity of the pests. This is exactly how pesticides work.
Integrated pest management programme is meant to bridge the resistance and immunity of pests on a farm.
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