Development of a pull-kill device for controlling crop insect pest populations

In sub-Saharan Africa, agriculture is the most important source of employment accounting for 65% of full-time jobs, 25-30% of gross domestic product (GDP) and more than half of total export earnings (Haggblade and Gabre-Madhin, 2010). According to FAO, the agriculture and food security sector, and in particular women, make up a large proportion of the agricultural labor force and produce 60-80% of food in most developing countries and play a crucial role in the fight for food security.

In Benin, thanks to the strength of agricultural production, economic growth reached 4% in 2016, according to estimates, against 2.1% in 2015, (International Monetary Fund, IMF in 2017).

Despite the role of this primary sector in developing country’s development, it was reported that this is still not to adapted to the rate of population growth (Milleville et Serpantier, 1994). This is because expected yields are not always reached due to both abiotic and biotic pressures. Of all the pests recorded (mites, nematodes, insects, etc.), insects, are to date the most important (Piet et al., 2007). These consume 1/6 of the world’s agricultural production per day, and especially those of countries entirely dependent on agriculture (CNS, 2008). To face such parasitic complexes, many methods are used:

The application of chemicals, he most used method is neither ecologically nor economically profitable (Vodouhe et al., 2012). Indeed, it is very expensive for small farmers, it destroys natural enemy populations (Campbell et al., 1991) and its residues buildup on plants (Walgenbach et al., 1991) while targeted organisms develop resistance against insecticides (Silva et al., 2011; Ouedraogo, 2004). Its efficiency was reported to be poor because the pests are sometime protected in the leaf mesophyll or inside fruits (Cocco et al., 2013).

In this context, biological control methods are potentially very beneficial and an effective tactic to develop (Savino et al., 2012) using plants, viruses, bacteria, fungus based bio pesticides or natural enemies (Eggleton et Gaston, 1990; Boivin, 1999; Sampaio et al., 2008). Likewise many others methods such as host plant resistance, cultural and landscape management methods, etc., have been successfully implemented (Prasanna et al., 2018; Midega et al. 2018).

The present project is dealing with the development of a pest management tool which will be similar to the Push-Pull approach. This will attract the pest by pheromones or any others source of odor and electrocute it. It can be used anywhere on any cropping system and against any crop pest insect.

Objective: This project will be achieved in Benin and will aim to contribute to the crop pest management in an ecological and biological context.

The specific objectives consist of:

  • Developing the Pull-kill device,
  • Testing the efficiency of the Pull-kill device on the control of crop pests, and
  • Popularizing the use of this new insect pest control tool.

The proposed device includes four (04) parts: the top one will be made of circular solar panel which will be the source of power and will be equipped with a power bank. This will be related to the perforated lateral face through which the volatiles will be released. It will be also the electric part. The conic box will contain the source of odor (pheromones, infested organs of plants, etc.) that will attract insects. A 1.5 m picket will keep the whole system over the farming. A circular glued surface fixed on the picket will collect insects having been electrocuted. The dead insects will be daily numbered.

The steps I intend to take to develop my idea are as followed:

  • Conception of the Pull-kill device in laboratory,
  • Assessment of semi-field and field-scale trials in different cropping system,
  • Evaluation of the effectiveness of the new tool (Pull-kill) compared to the Push-Pull one,
  • Training of farmers and agricultural extension officers through farmers’ field school about the use of the tool,
  • Popularization of the Pull-kill tool using mass media and public service advertising.

The stakeholders are:

  • The researchers and local and International Research Institutes such INRAB, IITA in Benin, will intervene at different level of this project from the materials purchase to result popularization,
  • Design engineers will conceive the device by respecting the given instructions/protocol,
  • Agricultural extension officers and farmers will be trained on the use of the device.

The beneficiaries:

This device will used by farmers to control their crop pests and guarantee food security the consumers we are.

Socio economic impacts are:

  • Generation of employment,
  • Reduction of yield losses
  • Contribution to guarantee food security,
  • Reduction of pest management cost,
  • Etc.

My motivation for this project is because in my country (Benin), foods are mainly produced by poor small farmers. The chemicals they generally apply against pests are very expensive for them while the effectiveness is low. As alternative methods, they apply plant-based bio pesticides which are not available in required quantities. The control by natural enemies and entomopathogenic agents is not successfully extended yet.

The tool I’m proposing will be accessible, available, economic, ecological, hands-on, and can be used anywhere against any crop pest insect and on any cropping system. It differs from the push-pull approach (which is also a no less important method), by its ability to electrocute its host. It makes the solar energy an effective weapon for controlling crop pest populations. This new method aims to dispel the hypothesis that, in the case of the Push-Pull method, the pest can return to the plant when the odor emitted by the main crop is more attractive than that emitted by the pheromone cage to maintain it.

Expected results: At the end of this project I expect to have a pest insect Pull-kill device will be developed and tested. Its potential to control crop pest insects population will be assessed, and this new insect pest control tool will be disseminated among farmers.

Marius Abimibola Y. Akpoffo, Benin

4 comments

  1. That could be a good biological method of pest control if you pay attention to the following aspects in the project :
    What kind of pheronom? Local or exotic? Is it specific to a species of insect, or not? The time of activity of the odor? The stage of development of insect which causes a lot of damages to the crop? The influences of abioctic factors on the device efficiency? The device’s cost and other elements of accessibility to the farmers….
    Good Luck!

    Liked by 1 person

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