Re-Bugging the System: Promoting Adoption of Alternative Pest Management Strategies in Field Crop Systems

Lead Research Organisation: University of Kent
Department Name: Kent Business School


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Balcombe K (2006) Bayesian Estimation of Willingness-to-pay Where Respondents Mis-report Their Preferences* in Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics

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Beale MH (2006) Aphid alarm pheromone produced by transgenic plants affects aphid and parasitoid behavior. in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

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Bruce TJ (2007) Plant defence signalling induced by biotic attacks. in Current opinion in plant biology

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Chandler D (2011) The development, regulation and use of biopesticides for integrated pest management. in Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological sciences

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Cook SM (2007) The use of push-pull strategies in integrated pest management. in Annual review of entomology

Description Overall, our results suggest that progress is required on several fronts before the IPM technologies studied here can be considered as an effective substitute to insecticide use in cereals. Significant technical barriers remain and much remains to be done in the development of non species specific, IPM.

The last serious outbreak of cereal aphids in summer in the UK was in the 1970's although these aphids are still a target of much insecticide use in the UK. During this project natural infestation levels were low. It is possible that CBC, generated by AES measures, may have contributed to the decline in cereal aphid populations in the UK although other factors such as changes in rotation, nitrogen fertiliser use, insecticide usage, cultivars and climate may have also played a role.

Semiochemical treatment in some of the wheat field trials conducted here produced no statistically significant effect, most likely because of the low pest infestation levels. However, in the pea crop there were significant effects and there were promising indications that the wheat variety 'Solstice' responds well to cis-jasmone treatment. The potential for semiochemicals thus requires further evaluation in other crop systems, especially in the horticultural systems where fewer insecticide products will be available due to pesticide revocations. However, speed of action may limit adoption where cosmetic damage is important. Combining CBC and semiochemicals may help to overcome the limitations of both approaches; biocontrol has frequently been demonstrated to be more effective adjacent to field boundaries, but issues regarding the scale of habitat augmentation and the ability of habitats to provide sufficient natural enemies to have an impact need to be addressed. While the literature is full of references to and definitions of IPM which recognise the need for inclusion of a large and diverse range of component technologies, little is known about how these technologies interact.

As for economic barriers to the commercial use of IPM, we have found that policy, as implemented in the UK following the commencement of this research, has made what appears to be a significant breakthrough in what is implemented on farms. We had expected to find that farmers would be reluctant to consider IPM, and that practices which can promote biological control functions would not be found on farms. Reasons for this expectation were; 1. that farmers would capture only a small proportion of the benefits of a change in technology and that they would face large transition costs, 2. insecticides are cheap, to use, and pest control represents a very small proportion of crop production costs, 3. the effectiveness of alternatives had not demonstrated.

However, AES implementation appears to have made a first step toward breaking farmers' dependence on pesticides by compensating them for revenue forgone or cost incurred in the implementation of IPM beneficial land use change. Some of these changes have, in certain combinations yielded measureable reductions in insecticide use. Laboratory studies conducted here demonstrated significant complementarity between natural enemy species shown in improved control and resilience. Further, field scale trials showed that aphid control could be improved with habitat manipulation and therefore, there remains scope to improve CBC in practice. AES is now in place to provide such habitat improvement but these programmes do need to be developed further to fully exploit these gains.

This research award has yielded several significant breakthroughs in our understanding of the functioning of both CBC and semiochemical technologies. Among these is the improved understanding of the relationship between beneficial species diversity, abundance and pest control, which together with our improved understanding of the field-scale habitats likely to promote these populations, will help us make significant improvements to the UKs' AES programmes.
Exploitation Route Our findings are rather specific in nature. We have found that it is important to look at thise particular types of technological solutions in the round since no single discipline has the capacity or ability to see the complete picture in regard to their attractiveness to commercial farmers.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink

Description The development, regulation and use of biopesticides for integrated pest management. Cited 72 times
First Year Of Impact 2011
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink
Impact Types Economic