Written by the Web Team
Crop protection expert based at the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) urged farmers to plant vegetables along rice bunds to help manage pests, during the Ecological Engineering in Pest Management seminar at PhilRice, May 24.
Gertrudo S. Arida, division head of PhilRice Crop Protection Division said planting vegetables such as okra, kalabasa, talong provides food for egg parasitoids and shelter for predators.
“Palayamanan® or diversified farming can provide a diverse habitat for beneficial organisms or natural enemies to rice pests. Flowering vegetables in Palayamanan® are sources of pollen and nectars and home of predators,” Arida said.
Arida promoted “ecological engineering,” a strategy that lessens pesticide use by improving the beneficial insects’ habitat. Beneficial insects in the rice field include spiders, coccinelid bettles, long legged flies, and yellowish-brown ants.
“Farmers apply pesticides about six times in a season. Pesticides must only be used as a corrective measure during pest outbreaks. To prevent outbreaks, we recommend the conservation of natural enemies to lessen the unnecessary and costly use of pesticides,” Arida said.
Farmers spray pesticides indiscriminately and usually without proper gear to protect themselves. This practice, Arida said, does not only kill natural enemies by insecticide misuse, but also risk farmers’ health.
Statistics from the World Health Organization showed about 3 million cases of pesticide poisoning annually and 220,000 deaths caused by indiscriminate pesticide use.
“Maximizing the use of beneficial organisms is a sustainable and human and environment-friendly pest management strategy,” Arida said.
Arida is also the project leader of PhilRice’s project on ecological engineering research in collaboration with Land-use intensity and Ecological Engineering-Assessment Tools for Risks and Opportunities (LEGATO) in irrigated rice-based production system, a project funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research in Germany.