Pest plants, pests and weeds have been a familiar part of the farming industry since agriculture was first practiced. The lifecycles of many pests cause them to thrive during certain, usually warmer, seasons of the year. In Australia governments have responded by setting up quarantine areas where new pest plants can’t spread from one area to another and by regulating or even prohibiting the movement of animals and plant materials into and within each state. During the last century there has also been a steady increase in farm production and larger farms mean more chance for pests and diseases to persist and reduce yield.
Pests include but are not limited to weeds, diseases, weeds, termites, rodents, rabbits, foxes and feral animals. Cultural control does not involve the use of chemicals. It involves active management of the land by changes in farm practices or use of technology which reduces risk of pest invasion or damage. One of the major factors of high economic importance in agriculture is the pest. Pest is any entity that disturbs or disrupts the normal growth of a plant or reduces the yield of the plant. Pests play a significant role in the yield and profit of any crop producing enterprise; pests are known to have deleterious effects on crop growth and yield.
There are different types of pest in agriculture so also there are different methods of pest control in agriculture. Considering the definition of a pest, examples of pests are; weed, insect and human activities. Weed and human activities, as pests, can be easily managed and kept at bay, unlike insects that are more virulent and obstinate in their attack. This article discusses the insect pests in details and how best to control them on your farm.There are different types of pest that affect the healthy growth of crops; in this article, they are grouped into 2. They are:
- Micro pests
- Macro pests
Micro pests are those pests that are relatively smaller in size and their physical presence are quite difficult to notice. Their effects or activities in a farm make their presence felt, examples are the armyworm, cutworm, aphids.
However, the macro pests are pests that are relatively larger in size and their physical presence can easily be detected even before their activity on a farm, a good example is the rodent and sometimes, humans. Considering the sizes of these pests, there are different types of pest control methods that can be used to curb their menace.
Types of pest control methods
The main insect pests in cereal crops are the rice fly, lesser grain borer, Indian meal moth, stored product beetles, termite and cutworm. In vegetable crops those causing serious damage are the sweet corn fly, warehouse beetle and rice weevil. There are 4 major methods of pest control in agriculture; these control methods are classified with respect to the size of the pest. They are:
- Physical methods of pest control
- Chemical methods of pest control
- Cultural methods of pest control
- Biological methods of pest control
Now, let’s see how these pest control methods are used.
1. Physical methods of pest control
This is one of the natural methods of pest control; it is a non-chemical pest control method. It involves physical detection of the pest presence and using different ways to evacuate them from the farm. This method of pest control is mostly used for macro pests like rodents. It involves the use of traps, hunting, security men, alarms and caricature and other scary and combative techniques to get rid of these pests. Using any of these methods causes no harm to the crop and its consumer; this method is very effective in controlling macro pests like grasscutter, giant rat, rabbit, and other rodents. This method is less expensive and requires less labor.
Physical Methods of pest control: It is the somewhat old and time-tested method in controlling pests like rodents and rodents. Most farmers in Africa and Asia still use this method in controlling their pests. The methods involve the use of traps, hunting, security men, alarms and caricature and other scary and combative techniques to get rid of these pests. The physical methods cause no harm to the crop and its consumer; it is very effective in controlling macro pests like grasscutter, giant rat, rabbit among others….
The methods of physical pest control can be divided into three categories. The first category contain the methods that cause the pests no harm but rather to people and plants. This includes patrolling and checking security at night, and putting up metal wires and traps, hiding places for the pests so they might decide to move out of the farm.
2. Chemical methods of pest control
This is the use of chemical substances, mostly suffocants, to get rid of pest from the farm. The chemicals are very poisonous and toxic compounds; they are commonly mixed with water at the recommended rate before spraying on the foliage or leaves of the plants on different days before harvesting. This pest control method is commonly used to control micro pests like aphids, armyworm, thrips, etc.; the physical presence of these pests is difficult to detect but their destructive effects can be observed as they multiply. Their effects alarm the use of this control method and not their presence per se.
The pesticide application is carried out in three different parts of the farms: (i) before planting, (ii) during the crop growth, and (iii) after harvest. This is because after planting, pest population can multiply much faster than the plant production because any pests found on the plant are carried through to the next generation since they are all clones. Thus control of pests should be much more effective prior to seeding. After harvest, many insects have already migrated to other farms either for hibernation or reproduction, thus making it easy to control them knowing their approximate number by counting the number of larvae present.
For instance, spraying insecticides can be easily carried out on the surface of the leaves without damaging the crop which has been taken up from under those leaves. This is because pests have been killing food crops. The pest control should obviously be done during the mornings or evenings for a late afternoon spraying because it should not overtax a growing plant at that period of time.
The chemicals used are called pesticides or insecticides. The disadvantages of chemical pest control method are: the chemical compounds can be retained in the crop, thereby impairing the health of the consumer; the cost of chemicals is high, hence, adding up to the cost of production; lastly, it is labor intensive.
3. Cultural methods of pest control
Cultural methods involve the use of various methodologies aimed at providing an unfavorable condition for the pests. There are two key uses of this form of pest control; it aims to keep the pests in check in order that the crops do not get destroyed by them and secondly, to reduce or prevent infestation in order that it keeps coming back.
It is used to control pests in order for the crops to remain safe from harm. There are two key uses of this form of pest control; it aims to keep the pests in check in order that the crops do not get destroyed by them and secondly, to reduce or prevent infestation in order that it keeps coming back. The pest control methods used in the crops involve the use of various methods aimed at providing an unfavorable condition for the pests. The aim is to keep the pests in check in order that the crop do not get destroyed by them and secondly, to reduce or prevent infestation in order that it keeps coming back.
This is also among the natural methods of pest control. Cultural pest control methods involve the use of various methodologies or techniques aimed at providing an unfavorable condition for the pests. A good example of this method is land preparation; other examples are weeding, seed treatment, etc.; this is one of the easiest methods of pest control in agriculture. It is cost effective and poses no threat to the health of both the consumer and the environment.
4. Biological methods of pest control
Biological pest control is what you can call the biodiversity-based pest management system. It promotes the concept of integrated pest management whereby all available ways are used to minimize harm on the plant production while increasing natural enemies’ population in order to reduce the use of pesticides.
This is the most technical pest control method in agriculture; it involves the use of the natural enemy of the pest to prey them; like using chicken to control the population of grasshoppers and nematodes. It is also a combination of different methods of pest control to achieve a pest-free farm. It can also be called integrated pest management. it is technical and requires expertise.
Biological control of pests is a form of pest control that relies on predators, pathogens and parasites of the pest to reduce populations. This method incorporates a new discipline in pest control, called agro-ecology, considering the role of natural enemies in controlling pests and the density of natural populations.
To achieve a better yield in crop production, the farmer must devise effective methods of pest control. Irrespective of the cropping season, pests are ubiquitous. Although the pest cannot be totally eradicated from the farm, they can be kept or manage below economic damage level.
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