Ecological approaches and the development of "truly integrated" pest management.
Recent predictions of growth in human populations and food supply suggest that there will be a need to substantially increase food production in the near future. One possible approach to meeting this demand, at least in part, is the control of pests and diseases, which currently cause a 30-40% loss in available crop production. In recent years, strategies for controlling pests and diseases have tended to focus on short-term, single-technology interventions, particularly chemical pesticides. This model frequently applies even where so-called integrated pest management strategies are used because in reality, these often are dominated by single technologies (e.g., biocontrol, host plant resistance, or biopesticides) that are used as replacements for chemicals. Very little attention is given to the interaction or compatibility of the different technologies used. Unfortunately, evidence suggests that such approaches rarely yield satisfactory results and are unlikely to provide sustainable pest control solutions for the future. Drawing on two case histories, this paper demonstrates that by increasing our basic understanding of how individual pest control technologies act and interact, new opportunities for improving pest control can be revealed. This approach stresses the need to break away from the existing single-technology, pesticide-dominated paradigm and to adopt a more ecological approach built around a fundamental understanding of population biology at the local farm level and the true integration of renewable technologies such as host plant resistance and natural biological control, which are available to even the most resource-poor farmers.
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