4 Key Components of Integrated Pest Control That You Should Know About
Increasing crop productivity and maintaining ecological balance are the main challenges faced by every agriculture researcher. Integrated pest control techniques address both these challenges and resolve them effectively by making use of a combination of different components. These components don’t just help in destroying pests, but, at the same time, also ensure that future pest infestations don’t occur. Thus, integrated pest management provides an all-round pest control methodology.
Economy of any country is generally classified into five sectors, viz., primary sector related to agriculture and allied services, secondary sector related to manufacturing, tertiary sector related to services, quaternary sector related to technological innovations and knowledge economy, and quinary sector related to governmental activities. Of these five sectors, the agriculture is the one which is the most dependent on natural events and variables. Every aspect of agriculture is dependent on natural events which make the sector’s productivity very much ambiguous. Since ancient times, in order to reduce the ambiguity and decrease agriculture’s dependence on natural phenomena, several techniques have been devised. Of these techniques, irrigation, fertilizers, pest control, and seed management are some of the most important ones that have been introduced so as to decouple agriculture from the uncertainty associated with natural events.
Pest control techniques are as old as agriculture itself. Modern day pest control strategies, especially since the Green Revolution, mainly included spraying of harmful pesticides and insecticides which had a disastrous effect on the ecology as a whole. Increasing number of voices in favor of conserving the environment have put a check on these practices and instead given a boost to what are now called as integrated pest control techniques. Integrated pest management strategies are those methods which focus on long-term prevention of pests through an integration of several practices such as biological control, cultural control, etc. The biggest advantage of integrated pest control techniques is that they involve environmentally sustainable practices which help in reduction of ecological degradation. In fact, integrated pest management strategies have gained a lot of momentum in the last few years especially due to this advantage. The growth in the global pest control market is a good case in point.
Components of Integrated Pest Control Strategies
Lately, integrated pest management has become a key feature of almost all agricultural systems practiced all over the world. As the name suggests, integrated pest management employs a combination of various techniques to holistically cover all the aspects of pest control. Some of these environmentally sustainable practices are given below:
- Biological controls
These pest control techniques involve using natural predators to suppress and reduce pest populations. Introducing a new bioagent which effectively kills the pests while keeping the crop intact is one of the most used pest management mechanisms employed around the world. For this purpose, bioagents known as parasitoids are generally used. These bioagents, during their immature stage, develop within the single insect host, thereby ultimately killing the host.
- Cultural controls
Cultural pest management practices are those techniques in which regular farming operations are done in such a way that they destroy pests and help in preventing future infestations. Farming operations like tilling, weed plucking, etc. are done in such a way that unfavorable conditions are created for pest populations to thrive. Along with this, selection of hybrid seed varieties which are naturally pest-resistant and adjusting the sowing time of these varieties as per the pest attack season are other important aspects of cultural controls. Crop rotation which helps in maintaining the fertility of the soil is also an effective way to restrict the growth of pests.
- Mechanical/Physical controls
Mechanical practices largely involve physical removal of insects and pests. These include removal of eggs, larvae, pupae, and adult population from the crops or cutting diseased parts of plants so as to restrict their growth. Setting up of traps for rodent control or using barriers like bamboos to restrict the entry of such rodents are some examples of effective mechanical controls that are generally employed for pest control.
- Chemical controls
Though chemical control generally includes use of pesticides, in integrated pest management, pesticides and insecticides are used only in adequate amounts and, that too, along with other long-term approaches. Selective usage of insecticides in such a way that the quality of soil and water isn’t degraded is the most important aspect of integrated pest control methods. In the last few years, opting for neem-based pesticides instead of toxic chemical-based pesticides has become an integral part of sustainable pest control strategies.
The Bottom Line
Adopting measures to minimize ecological degradation while engaging in agricultural activities is an important part of sustainable farming practices. Integrated pest management is a great step in that direction. Creating awareness regarding these techniques is the need of the hour, as our planet is on the brink of an environmental collapse. Social media and other such communication channels should be employed to amplify this message and spread it all over the word.
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