Supporting Farmers

I’ve heard that some plants are resistant to pesticides. How do farmers manage pesticide resistance?

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The use of pesticides, whether they are natural or synthetic compounds, is crucial in all forms of farming – insects, fungus and weeds are a constant threat to food, feed and fibre productivity. The use of crop protection products has greatly increased world food security and standards of living.

As is the case with antibiotic resistance , over time, some crop pests have developed resistance to the herbicides, fungicides or insecticides used to manage them.

CropLife Australia promotes the responsible use of a range of pest management methods to ensure sustainable agricultural outcomes.

It is recognised that managing pesticide resistance is a vital aspect of maintaining the crop protection option for integrated crop management.  In line with good farming practice, a comprehensive program of alternative management strategies is employed to minimise the development of resistance, whilst contributing towards the quality of the environment.

The below video from CropLife International and the Insecticide Resistance Action Committee (IRAC) explains insecticide resistance management by rotation of different modes of action.

There are three steps to Integrated Pest Management: Prevent Pests, Monitor Pests and Intervene to Manage Pests.

There are three steps to Integrated Pest Management: Prevent Pests, Monitor Pests and Intervene to Manage Pests.

1. Prevent Pests 

Here are some of the Prevention tools in a farmer’s Integrated Pest Management (IPM) toolbox:

Crop Location
Growing crops in locations where they are best suited to the climate, soil and topography provides them with optimal conditions from the start.

Variety Selection
Choosing beneficial crop varieties, such as those with disease and pest resistance, has always been a cornerstone of IPM. This might include choosing conventional or biotech varieties.

Applying nutrients at the right time in the correct amounts can optimise soil health and help crops withstand attacks from pests.

Strategic Planting and Crop Rotation
Sowing different crops in alternate rows or under sowing a crop like wheat with a legume can improve soil fertility and reduce weeds. Growing different crops in rotation also helps reduce the build-up of pests.

Soil Management
Mechanical, physical and cultural crop protection methods prevent or minimize pests. These methods also reduce their build-up and carryover from one crop to another.

Water Management
Careful irrigation can control weeds, save water and protect beneficial soil organisms.

 

 

Optimising Plant Nutrition
Applying nutrients at the right time in the correct amounts can optimise soil health and help crops withstand attacks from pests.

Harvesting and Storage
Good harvesting, seed cleaning and storage methods can reduce the carryover of weed seeds and disease-causing organisms.

Preserving Biodiversity
Protecting natural habitats near farmland is the best way to conserve biodiversity, including many natural pest enemies.

2. Monitor Pests 

Farmers are always inspecting their fields to see what action may be required to defend against pests and protect their crops. They work hard to stay on top of insects, diseases and weeds, and they make smart decisions to control them in a safe and sustainable way.

Here are some of the Monitoring tools in a farmer’s Integrated Pest Management (IPM) toolbox:

Routine inspections
Walking through a field or flying over it with a drone.

Assessment tools
Pheromone traps, diagnostic and forecasting systems, geographic information systems and remote-sensing techniques.

Decision-making tool
Pegboards, computers, trained local experts and remote-sensing technologies.

3. Intervene to Manage Pests 

When pests threaten to destroy food and livelihoods, farmers use a variety of techniques to safely and sustainably control them.

Physical, biological and chemical control measures are all at a farmers’ disposal to ensure a healthy crop. Farmers are trained to use a combination of these measures to protect our food with minimal impact on the environment.

Here are some of the Intervention tools in a farmer’s Integrated Pest Management (IPM) toolbox:

Physical, biological and chemical control measures are all at a farmers’ disposal to ensure a healthy crop.

Physical Methods
Cultivating the soil with tractor uproots weeds, and removing infected plant debris from the field helps control the development of disease.

Biological Control
Introducing beneficial insects or predators; applying micro-organisms such as viruses, fungi and bacteria; and using pheromones to lure, trap and kill insects or interfere with their mating habits – all these practices selectively target and control pests.

Chemical Control
Applying chemical crop protection products (pesticides) is an important tool for controlling pests when they reach damaging levels. Pesticides are biologically active chemicals that control a range of insect and vertebrate pests, diseases and weeds. These products are thoroughly tested for safety, and farmers apply them carefully and in a way that protects natural resources and surrounding habitats.