Concepts of Integrated Pest Management - NAFRI

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					Concepts of Integrated Pest Management

Over the years, Integrated Pest Management has taken on many different meanings. A number of
people mistakenly understand that IPM is simply a method to control insects. It is important to under-
stand that:

   Most insects are not pests                            A pest is anything that hinders a crop's

   Many serve to pollinate the crop, loosen the          Pests can include diseases, weeds, rodents,
   soil, feed fish and frogs, control other insects      etc, as well as insects.
   that are pests, and other beneficial purposes.

22 Improving Livelihoods in the Uplands of the Lao PDR
  Management is not the same                                                   Flea beetle: Adults feed on
                                                                               leaves of young plants and
  as control                                                                  sometimes kill the seedlings.
                                                                               Larvae feed on the roots of
  Growing a good crop depends on many                                                   the plant.
                                                                Caterpillars:                             Rodents: eat crops
  different factors, including soil fertility, water,                                                      both in the field
                                                              feed on leaves
  cultural methods and seed variety. Each of                   and stems of                                   and after
  these factors influences and is influenced by                   plants                                     harvesting
  other factors: the cropping system is inte-

  Each cropping system has its own ecosys-
  tem. These ecosystems are constantly
  changing according to the specific crop or
  crops, the season, and even the weather on
  any specific day. Perhaps the largest imme-                   Fungal,
  diate influences on a crop's ecosystem are                 bacterial, and
  the inputs or crop management practices
  undertaken by farmers. In this sense, rather
  than just providing inputs to the crop, or
  even managing the crop itself, farmers must               Cabbage sawfly:                           Weeds: compete
                                                         the caterpillars eat the                     with the crop for
  be able to manage the crop's ecosystem.                  leaves of the plant                        light, water and

       pollinate plants                                             Instead of focusing on the control of a pest as
                                              control pest          an isolated problem, IPM seeks to manage
                                                insects             the ecosystem of the crop in an integrated
                                                                    manner. Because of this broader and more
                                                                    holistic approach, IPM is also often known as
                                                                    Integrated Pest and Production Manage-
                                                                    ment or Integrated Crop Management.
                                                                    Perhaps it could also be called integrated
                                                                    ecosystem management.

help to improve
soil texture

                                  control aphids
       control pest
                                other pest insects

                                                                         Concepts of Integrated Pest Management 23
IPM and pesticides                                            Ecosystems, Diversity and Balance
                                                          Our human ecosystem means everything we
Another common misunderstanding is that IPM
                                                          need to sustain life. This includes such basic
means no chemical pesticides. This is not
                                                          things as air, water, and food. If there is too
wholly true. Just as the human body sometimes
                                                          much water, we will drown. If there is not
needs medicine, so pesticides might occasion-
                                                          enough water, we will die. We also need food,
ally be the only viable option for a specific
                                                          and food needs water, soil and sunlight.
crop problem. However, two points should be
                                                          Therefore, our ecosystem must not only have
     Prevention is better than cure.                      many different components, but these com-
Like a healthy body, a healthy ecosystem is far           ponents must be in the proper proportion to
more able to defend itself. Pesticides upset the          sustain each other. In other words, our eco-
ecosystem's balance, killing beneficial insects,          system requires both diversity and balance.
known as natural enemies, as well as pests. The
weakened ecosystem often results in even
more pests, which can lead to even more                      Farmers themselves must make the
pesticides, much as a drug addict needs more                 decisions regarding management of
and more drugs to achieve the same effect.                   the crop's ecosystem.
                                                         This includes the possible use of pesticides.
                                                         These decisions cannot be made by chemical
                                                         companies who want to sell products, by
                                                         researchers in distant stations, or by extension
                                                         agents who visit only occasionally. Only farmers
                   pesticide is                          are able to constantly monitor and analyse the
                     spayed                              day-to-day changes in their fields.

                                                                           Pesticides kill
                                                                         beneficial insects as
                                                                            well as pests

                                  ecosystem often
                                   results in more                   Pests and beneficial insects are
                                        pests                        killed; ecosystem is unbalanced

24 Improving Livelihoods in the Uplands of the Lao PDR
IPM and Farmer Field Schools                     The group analyses their findings together
                                                 and decides what management practices
Because cropping ecosystems are highly           to apply in the IPM trial plot.
complex and dynamic, those promoting IPM         The results of these practices are
found that conventional agriculture extension    compared to those in a second local
approaches were not sufficient. Hence, the       practice plot, which is managed according
Farmer Field School (FFS) was developed to       to common practices undertaken locally in
assist farmers in understanding and managing     the past.
their crops' ecosystems. In an FFS:
                                                 Facilitators help guide the process, but the
    The 'school' is the field itself.            real ‘teachers’ are other farmers, and the
    20 to 30 women and men meet each week        crop itself.
    for an entire cropping season to study all
    aspects of the crop's ecosystem, including
    the plant's development, soil conditions,
    pest problems, and how these are related.

                                                   Concepts of Integrated Pest Management 25
In addition to the main field study described            IPM in the Lao PDR
above, FFS often include additional hands-on
activities and experiments such as:                      IPM activities began in Laos 1996. Initial work
   Field studies to compare seed varieties,              focused on rice, reflecting the crop's vital
   fertilisers, planting density, soil preparation,      importance to the country. In 1999, the
   and other cultural practices.                         programme expanded to include vegetable
                                                         crops as well. To date, nearly 100 government
   Rearing insects to study their behaviour, life
                                                         officials have attended a full-season training of
   cycles, and the relationships between pests
                                                         trainers courses in vegetables and rice. In nine
   and natural enemies.
                                                         provinces across the country, over 200 veg-
The phrases learning-by-doing, seeing is                 etable and 400 rice Farmer Field Schools have
believing and action research are often used             been conducted.
in describing quality FFS and the central
strategy of FFS should always be:
a hands-on and experiential learning, with
focus on a single crop.

Attempts have been made to incorporate
many different topics (livestock, fruit trees,
vegetables, etc.) into a single FFS, but results
are usually quite limited, as the approach shifts
from one of applied, hands-on learning, to
top-down instruction and technology transfer.

    Comparing FFS and conventional technology transfer approaches to agricultural extension

26 Improving Livelihoods in the Uplands of the Lao PDR
In addition to this core training work, additional             Field schools focusing on variety studies
activities have included:                                      and bacterial wilt resistance for off-season
    Farmer Trainer training workshops.                         tomato production.
    Soil ecology and nutrient field schools for                Numerous technical workshops on topics
    rice and vegetables.                                       ranging from rice bug and bakane disease,
                                                               to the use of biological control agents.
                                                               Workshops and continuing follow-up to
                                                               backstop and monitor field activities.

                                                           IPM and upland agriculture
                                                           IPM activities undertaken in Laos have so far
                                                           been targeted at lowland cropping systems.
                                                           For rice IPM, the focus has been on paddy
                                                           production, and vegetable IPM activities have
                                                           been directed primarily toward those areas
                                                           near larger cities and vegetable markets. In
                                                           other words, there have not been any con-
                                                           certed efforts to develop or promote IPM
                                                           approaches and methodologies for upland
                                                           agriculture. Although such efforts would be
                                                           highly worthwhile, they are far beyond the
                                                           scope of this article. However, it should be
                                                           noted that villages in upland areas also culti-
                                                           vate upland paddy rice and vegetables; there-
                                                           fore experience from the lowlands can also be
                                                           relevant for the uplands.

                                             Pesticide Caution
 In 2003, the FAO Vegetable Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Programme conducted a case study on
 pesticide use in Laos (Van der Borght et al 2004). Interviews, discussions and surveys included officials,
 farmers and markets in Champasak, Savannakhet, Vientiane Capital and Vientiane Provinces. The study
 found that pesticide use is relatively low in Laos compared to in other countries of the region, and that
 active promotion of pesticides is not widespread. However, the study also found that pesticides are
 widely available, and that most of those for sale are highly toxic. Folidol, a class 1a pesticide, was found
 to be the most widely available and used pesticide, even through it is officially banned.

 Of significant concern is that a clear trend toward increasing use of pesticides was noted, particularly
 by farmers producing for urban markets. Although these farmers are aware of the dangers, they
 repeatedly stated that they know of no other way to meet the demands of the market, consumers and
 middlemen, other than to use more pesticides. The study concluded that merely not promoting
 pesticides is not enough, and that more concerted policies, strategies, and action are urgently needed.

                                                                  Concepts of Integrated Pest Management 27
Important points to remember:                                  Farmers are the crop managers: because
     New crops, cropping systems, or man-                      conditions change constantly, no one is
     agement practices change the ecosys-                      able to manage the crop better than
     tem: a healthy crop requires a diverse and                farmers themselves. If new inputs or
     balanced ecosystem. Changes or new                        methods are not understood, accepted and
     inputs can upset this balance. This often                 trusted by farmers, they have little or no
     leads to additional problems, including the               value at all.
     unnecessary use of or continuous depen-
                                                               Farmer Field Schools are not for every-
     dence on pesticides, even if chemicals are
                                                               body: FFS depend on strong farmer com-
     not actively promoted.
                                                               mitment and significant experience with
     There are no standard IPM technolo-                       the crop studied. As a result, FFS are not
     gies or solutions: IPM focuses on the                     very suitable for introducing entirely new
     management of ecosystems. Ecosystems                      crops or cropping systems. Although the
     vary widely from location to location, and                benefits can be considerable, FFS require
     change constantly over time. This means                   considerable investments of time, human
     that there are no easy answers that are                   and financial resources to work effectively.
     universally applicable.

                                           Four principles of IPM

                            1 Grow a healthy crop
                                  2 Preserve natural enemies
                                          3 Visit and observe fields regularly
                                                  4 Farmers become the experts

Selected references
Van der Borght, D., Litthamalay, S. & Khampouvong, P. 2004. The Path to Pesticides...? A case study on trends
and tendencies in the Lao PDR. FAO. Inter-Country Programme for IPM Vegetables in South and Southeast
Asia. Vientiane.

                                                            Improving Livelihoods in the Uplands of the
                                                            Lao PDR was produced in 2005 by NAFRI,
Randy Arness,
                                                            NAFES and NUOL.

28 Improving Livelihoods in the Uplands of the Lao PDR