Rearing of beneficial insects on commercial scale: A way towards achieving sustainable crop protection

Beneficial insects like the ladybird beetle, lacewings, honeybees, bumble bees etc. have been helping mankind for centuries to save their crop plants from heavy infestation of pests. Chemical pesticides have now provided an alternative and a more reliable method of pest management but with various health and environmental challenges. Moreover, excessive usage and use of low standard pesticides have resulted in development of more resilient insect/pest strains. In-spite of heavy pesticide usage insect/pest damage continues to be a problem and farmers are compelled to use heavier doses of pesticides that are not only effecting human health but also their environment and aquatic life forms.

I intend to start rearing, at commercial scale, multiple beneficial insects of crop plants including predator pests, such as the ladybird beetle and lacewings; parasitoids like parasitic wasps, and pollinator insects such as honey bees and bumble bees etc. I have found that the broad spectrum and high potency pesticides have badly affected the population size and natural habitat of these farmer friendly insects.

Rearing beneficial insects on a mass scale requires expertise and financial requirements so that the proper environment and feed may be available to the insect at the appropriate level of their life cycle. In this proposed project each type of beneficial insect will be reared in separate and controlled chambers where they will be feed under controlled conditions keeping in mind specific insect requirement. These insects will be made available to the farmers on their request. First a field visit by an agricultural expert to assess the level and type of infestation, will be required so that a check could be made on the population of these beneficial insects. However, in case of tunnel farming this technology can be used with more ease and flexibility due to already semi-controlled environment.

By using beneficial insects against the harmful insect/pests of the crop plants we can check the pest population and it will be a kind of natural defense to our crop plants. We can save our crops from harmful side effects of chemical pesticides . The rate at which pests are becoming more resilient to the chemical pesticides could also be decreased as they will not be exposed to these chemicals as frequently, thus providing a way towards achieving sustainable crop protection.

Danish Ibrar, Pakistan

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