Pest control efficiency in Agriculture
Futurcrop - 04-11-2019
An efficient treatment of Anarsia lineatella it must be carried out after the hatching of the eggs, when the majority of larvae have already left, but before they pierce the buds or shoots of fruit trees, as then insecticides no longer reach the pest.
Each pest has its most vulnerable moment, when they are most sensitive to treatments. However, it is difficult to know and predict those moments. That is the main than pest control treatments, chemical or biological, are usually carried out by calendar dates or by the evidence of the damage in crops. The problem is that generally in the first case these treatments were either not necessary or have no effect. Or, in the second case, if the treatments are performed when the damage to the crop is already evident, they are usually late and the pest is already difficult to control. Consequently, the reality of current agriculture is that most of the treatments are carried out even if not necessary, or an excessive quantity of chemical insecticides are being applied.
The indiscriminate and repeated use of insecticides for pest control has no effect: it means a waste of money and in most cases the problem of pests is aggravated.
If a producer intends to control the pest in its first generation larvae stage of the pest, but carry out an chemical treatment too soon, it will have decreased the effectiveness of the treatment due to the degradation of product. But, if the treatment is carried out too late, it will be ineffective because it will not make contact with the vulnerable phase of the pest. And the economic consequences of the decision are plain to see. If a tomato crop has a value of 0.42 euros / kg, and has a yield of 75,242 kg / Ha in outdoor irrigated crops, an inappropriate moment of insecticide spraying, supposing a damage increase of only, 0.4% , the inopportune treatment will result in a loss of 1,264 euros per hectare and pest generation.
In an economy of increasing competitiveness, certain crops with high production costs and slow harvesting are no longer profitable if added costs have to be considered. Even though, proportionally the costs of pesticides are the lowest in the agricultural production (because the costs of labor, machinery, etc. are not usually allocated to the tasks of pest control), the risk of losing the harvest by a wrong pest control action is very high. For this reason, to minimize uncertainty and risk, agriculture has become dependent on the application of chemical insecticides, increasing their consumption, often unnecessarily.
There is a false belief that the use of chemical pesticides is a quick solution against pests. But the reality is that the effectiveness of chemical insecticides has diminished over time, because they have been used repeatedly and indiscriminately.
There is an obvious lack of training when facing pest control issues. It is not enough to carry out treatments, but those have to be done with sufficient chance of success.
There are 2 very frequent errors in pest control:
- Misidentification of the pest that causes crop damage. It is an important mistake, as each pest or disease requires a different product for its treatment.
- To carry out the treatments at a time that is not the appropriate. For example, if sprayed against the olive cochineal when it is under the shell, the insecticide can hardly have any effect.
MONITORING AND RATIONALIZATION OF TREATMENTS
Identifying the pest correctly is essential for the treatment to be efficient. By monitoring a crop, an expert entomologist can identify the pest, know and predict the moments of its greater vulnerability to treatments. But even an entomologist needs to control the crops and perform calculations to accurately predict those moments.
Plant Health public organism of many countries usually send farmers information in which they warn of risks and pest development forecasts. To obtain this information they use phenological models and a calculation technique known as the degree-day method. But these is generic information that in many cases arrive late to producers.
With the purpose of providing all agricultural producers with this information, but personalized and in real time, we have compiled the entomologist's knowledge on the aspects of the biological development, monitoring and treatment of 179 pests, automated the data collection and calculation processes. We have developed a computer-based information system that alerts and provides information for pest control decision making. Also there is no need to buy and install expensive equipment in the fields.
FuturCrop, the decision support software for pest control, sends warning notices for each specific pest, and also facilitates brief instructions on the appearance of the different phases of the pest, examples of crop damage, location, habits, etc. that help to differentiate very similar species (for example, Panonychus ulmi and Tetranychus urticae)
The software helps determine if the monitoring data justifies a treatment action. For example, pheromone traps may indicate an increase in the number of adults of a pest, but the cumulative grade-days will indicate whether the increase is real or if it is a false peak. For a false peak, the treatment could be delayed until the actual beginning of the next generation of the pest, thus avoiding unnecessary pesticide applications. The software can also be used to determine when extensive scouting should be done, limiting monitoring to the pests the programa warned of.
Each of the 179 pests has information on monitoring, according to their stage of development, the optimal phases and conditions for treatment, as well as their biological control organisms.