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Beneficial Insects: An Integrated Pest Management Approach

Beneficial Insects: An Integrated Pest Management Approach

By Carlos Ruiz Vargas, IPM associate, Monsanto

Any farmer will tell you that controlling pests and weeds is one of the most common and increasingly difficult tasks in any type of agriculture. Also, there are many tools, with varying degrees of effectiveness, that can help control these issues. However, some of them can have a heavy environmental impact.

We at Monsanto are committed to agricultural sustainability. This is the reason we look for better and safer methods of pest and weed control. In 2010 Puerto Rico Agricultural Biotechnology Industry Association (PRABIA) – of which Monsanto is a member – reached the consensus that an integrated pest management (IPM) approach was needed to sustainably improve pest control in Puerto Rico. IPM is in essence a strategy, in which we focus on using a variety of methods that complement each other with the objective of controlling and managing pest populations, always helping to protect the environment around us. These methods include pest monitoring and thresholds; pest record maintenance; pest forecasting; improved and optimum agronomics; cultural and mechanical practices; pesticide application; ethological control; and biological controls. Let’s take a closer look at this last one.

Biological control is based in the use of beneficial insects, that attack harmful insects, those that affect our crops, naturally controlling the population of the latter in our farms. For example, to protect our corn crops from harmful fall armyworms (FAW), we release a nematode called capsanem. The capsanem larva looks for and burrows within armyworm larvae, feeding on the contents of the host. FAW larvae die within 2-3 days after application. This method has elevated our FAW control efficiency up to a range of 81 to 95 percent.

This type of pest control has many other advantages, such as: they are safer for field workers and operators; they have a nontoxic profile and do not require reentry intervals; they do not interfere with local pollinations; they are easy to establish in almost any crop protection program; pests do not develop resistance; and they reduce agrochemical stress in farmlands. However, the most important benefit of a good biological control system, in terms of sustainability, is that these are biological products, that are part of the ecosystem, and it helps us restore the ecological balance of our fields.

At Monsanto, we are committed to continue seeking and evaluating new technologies and new biological products that help us to control pests in our crops. Find out more about what we do at http://monsanto.pr.