Archive for the ‘Ecological Engineering’ Category

Rice Scientists,

About 5 months ago the US AGRONOMY journal invited me to write a review. Since it is pandemic time I thought it will be a nice mental challenge. After peer reviews, corrections, editing etc, it is finally published. Those interested the online version is available for those interested. https://www.mdpi.com/2073-4395/11/11/2208/pdf

KL Heong


Ecological Engineering for Rice Insect Pest Management: The Need to Communicate Widely, Improve Farmers’ Ecological Literacy and Policy Reforms to Sustain Adoption

by Kong-Luen Heong 1,*,Zhong-Xian Lu 2,Ho-Van Chien 3,Monina Escalada 4,Josef Settele 5,Zeng-Rong Zhu 1 andJia-An Cheng 11Institute of Insect Sciences, College of Agriculture and Biotechnology, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou 310058, China2Institute of Plant Protection and Microbiology, Zhejiang Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Hangzhou 310021, China3Department of Plant Protection, Mekong University, Vinh Long 890000, Vietnam4Department of Development Communication, Visayas State University, Baybay City 6521, Philippines5Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research—UFZ, 06120 Halle, Germany*Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.Academic Editor: George G. KennedyAgronomy202111(11), 2208; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11112208Received: 20 September 2021 / Revised: 24 October 2021 / Accepted: 29 October 2021 / Published: 30 October 2021(This article belongs to the Special Issue Crop Pest Management Based on Ecological Principles)
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Ecological engineering (EE) involves the design and management of human systems based on ecological principles to maximize ecosystem services and minimize external inputs. Pest management strategies have been developed but farmer adoption is lacking and unsustainable. EE practices need to be socially acceptable and it requires shifts in social norms of rice farmers. In many countries where pesticides are being marketed as “fast moving consumer goods” (FMCG) it is a big challenge to shift farmers’ loss-averse attitudes. Reforms in pesticide marketing policies are required. An entertainment education TV series was able to reach wider audience to improve farmers’ ecological literacy, shifting beliefs and practices. To sustain adoption of ecologically based practices organizational structures, incentives systems and communication strategies to support the new norms and practices are needed. View Full-TextKeywords: ecological engineeringentertainment-educationadoptionsustainabilityrice insect pest managementrice farmerspesticide marketingpolicy reformecosystem services▼ Show Figures

Figure 1This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited

s▼ Show Figures

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Science News from research organizations

Farmers help create ‘Virtual safe space’ to save bumblebees

Date:August 13, 2021Source:University of ExeterSummary:Solutions to help pollinators can be tested using a ‘virtual safe space’ tool created by scientists at the University of Exeter in collaboration with farmers and land managers.Share:FULL STORY

Solutions to help pollinators can be tested using a “virtual safe space” tool created by scientists at the University of Exeter in collaboration with farmers and land managers.

BEE-STEWARD is a decision-support tool which provides a computer simulation of bumblebee colony survival in a given landscape.

The tool lets researchers, farmers, policymakers and other interested parties test different land management techniques to find out which ones and where could be most beneficial for bees.

BEE-STEWARD — which is freely available online — is a powerful tool that can make bumblebee survival predictions, according to a new study.

“We know that pollinator decline is a really big problem for crops and also for wildflowers,” said Dr Grace Twiston-Davies, of the Environment and Sustainability Institute at the University of Exeter’s Penryn Campus in Cornwall.

“BEE-STEWARD takes into account the many complicated factors that interact to affect bumblebees.”

“This provides a virtual safe space to test out different bee-friendly management options.”

“It’s a free, user-friendly tool and we have worked with land managers and wildlife groups on the ground to create it together.”

Disentangling the many factors that affect bumblebee colonies is incredibly complicated, meaning real-word testing of different methods by land managers is often not feasible.

This problem prompted the Exeter scientists to create the BEEHAVE (honeybees) and Bumble-BEEHAVE (Bumblebees) computer models. But to help bumblebees thrive across our landscapes, these tools need to be used by people on the ground and not just scientists.

BEE-STEWARD has been designed with and for land managers, farmers and conservation practitioners to test out different ideas for land management and predict the impact that these may have on bumblebee survival.

BEE-STEWARD is being used by the Bumblebee Conservation Trust to help test and guide land management to help bumblebees and farm business thrive in Cornwall. Using BEE-STEWARD, bee-friendly actions are being tested across 1,500 ha of land in collaboration with the Duchy of Cornwall Estate, the National Trust, Treiwthen Dairy and Kellys of Cornwall.

BEE-STEWARD can simulate the growth, behaviour and survival of UK bumblebee species living in a landscape providing various nectar and pollen sources to forage on.

“The BEE-STEWARD model is a significant step towards enabling practitioners to support bumblebee populations,” said Professor Juliet Osborne, who leads the team.

“The tool can be used to inform conservation and farming decisions and for assigning bespoke management recommendations.”

Professor Osborne and team won the BBSRC Social Innovator of the Year 2017 award for creating the BEEHAVE models.

“We have worked with researchers and landowners who have been using the model and have given us valuable feedback so we could improve our models further” said model developer Dr Matthias Becher.

“Testing the BEE-STEWARD tool has helped us predict how best to provide new and improved habitat for pollinators in an informed way, considering existing and proposed flora, flowering times and location. This has focused decision making by identifying pollinator habitats that are lacking in a particular landscape, enabling us to focus our attention to improve and protect these specific areas” Ashley Taylor, Assistant Land Steward, Duchy of Cornwall Estate

BEE-STEWARD could be an important virtual test-bed for scientists exploring the impacts of different stressors on bumblebees and used by those with little or no modelling experience. Enabling a shared methodology between research, policy and practice for bumblebee survival.

“‘The Bee-Steward model will be fantastic for conservation planning — it lets us time-travel to see the long-term results of changing management and compare all the possible options to see which one will work out best for bumblebees” Dr Richard Comont, Science Manager, Bumblebee Conservation Trust.

The BEE-STEWARD tool sits alongside a wider body of research by Prof. Osborne, Dr Twiston-Davies and Dr Becher around pollinator-friendly land-management. Their work on the NERC-funded SWEEP programme has included providing advice on Managing Green Space to improve biodiversity and wildlife habitats and working on the ‘Farming for the Nation’ trial for a new Agri-environment scheme with Cornwall Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Story Source:

Materials provided by University of ExeterNote: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:

  1. Grace Twiston‐Davies, Matthias A. Becher, Juliet L. Osborne. BEE‐STEWARD: A research and decision‐support software for effective land management to promote bumblebee populationsMethods in Ecology and Evolution, 2021; DOI: 10.1111/2041-210X.13673

Cite This Page:

University of Exeter. “Farmers help create ‘Virtual safe space’ to save bumblebees.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 August 2021. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/08/210813100306.htm>.



Economics and Value of Pollination

May 20, 2021 — Scientists examine pollinators from both an economic and ecological perspective, providing much needed insight into the complexities of valuing pollination. This recent collaboration highlights the …

Artificial Intelligence Helps Banana Growers Protect the World’s Most Favorite Fruit

Aug. 12, 2019 — Using artificial intelligence, scientists created an easy-to-use tool to detect banana diseases and pests. With an average 90 percent success rate in detecting a pest or a disease, the tool can help …

Cities Could Play a Key Role in Pollinator Conservation

Jan. 14, 2019 — Given the pressures that pollinators face in agricultural land, cities could play an important role in conserving pollinators, according to a new study. The research has revealed that gardens and …

‘Virtual Safe Space’ to Help Bumblebees

May 23, 2018 — The many threats facing bumblebees can be tested using a ‘virtual safe …FROM AROUND THE WEB

ScienceDaily shares links with sites in the TrendMD network and earns revenue from third-party advertisers, where indicated.

  1. Could we protect bees from neonicotinoid insecticides by planting trees?Ariana Brocious, Genetic Literacy Project, 2017
  2. Bumblebees do better in cities than on farms, study findsJoanna Klein, Genetic Literacy Project, 2018
  3. Are we facing a ‘world without wild bees’?Genetic Literacy Project, 2015
  4. Could we protect bees from neonicotinoid insecticides by planting trees? | Genetic Literacy ProjectAriana Brocious et al., Genetic Literacy Project, 2017
  1. We Explored Links Between the CRM SystemsReachMD
  2. Podcast: ‘Are we all going to die?’ Entomologist breaks down the ‘bee-pocalypse’ that ‘threatens the global food supply’Katja Hogendoorn, Genetic Literacy Project, 2019
  3. Synergistic effect of ‘agricultural chemical cocktails’ commonly used by farmers pose harm to pollinating insectsUla Chrobak et al., Genetic Literacy Project
  4. Do You Know This About the CRM Systems?

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The impact of field margins on nature and biodiversity 
Field margins are important habitats and networks for nature and they provide corridors for the movement of wildlife and a place for native flora to flourish, without impacting on productivity. File Picture. 

SUN, 20 JUN, 2021 – 17:00AOIFE WALSH 

Thinking about the world outside of the field by managing its margins can have a very positive impact on nature and contribute to the improvement of biodiversity on Irish farms. 

Field margins are important habitats and networks for nature and they provide corridors for the movement of wildlife and a place for native flora to flourish, without impacting on productivity.

Aoife Walsh, Teagasc, and UCD MAIS student highlights some of the key actions that farmers can take to ensure that field margins are retained, maintained, and enhanced for farmland biodiversity.

“Field margins are easy to manage strips of naturally growing vegetation that are found along the edge of fields beside linear features like hedgerows. 

“Field margins are extremely valuable biodiversity habitats that are structurally different from what you might find in the centre of a ryegrass field.

“They are comprised of a variety of plants, including naturally growing wildflowers and grasses that produce flowers and seeds which benefit seed-eating birds like the House Sparrow, the Linnet and the Yellowhammer and pollinators like Bumblebees and solitary bees who avail of pollen and nectar from the margin’s flowering plants.

“Field margins facilitate the movement of wildlife throughout the farming landscape, acting as a highway for nature and providing cover for small mammals like shrews and voles, in turn providing owls with an ideal hunting ground.” 

Field margins require some management in order to optimise them as habitats for biodiversity, Aoife adds. 


In grazing situations, field margins should be fenced off to exclude livestock. The area that is fenced can range in width with wider margins providing more room for biodiversity. 

This action will further enhance the structural diversity of the margin by allowing vegetation to flower and go-to-seed.

“Margins should be cut in autumn after plants have flowered, at least once every three years, and this will prevent the vegetation within the margin becoming too rank or turning into scrub.” 


In addition, a minimum space of 1.5m between the main field crop and the base of the surrounding boundary should be maintained when spraying, cultivating, and applying fertiliser, urges Aoife.

“Increasing the width of field margins reduces the need for sprays as the space created will allow for a hedge cutter to mechanically control any encroachment. 

“Blanket spraying under the wire should be avoided as this will lead to the removal of plant diversity. If chemically controlling noxious weeds (ragwort, thistle, docks, male wild hop, common barberry, and wild oats, as listed under the noxious weed act) targeted spot spraying should be practised.

“As is the case with spraying, cultivation also leads to the removal of field margin habitats. 

“Maintaining a minimum distance of 1.5m out from the base of boundaries when cultivating will ensure that an area of margin remains undisturbed allowing the existing diversity to continue to flourish.

  • Aoife Walsh, Teagasc

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In Rohal Suong Climate-Smart Village, adoption of ecological engineering practices has improved farmers’ ability to prevent pests and diseases outbreaks while reducing pesticides use. Every year, a great portion of Cambodian farmers’ income is at risk because of possible pests and diseases (P&D) outbreak. Aside from the inadequate knowledge of farmers, climate change aggravates the […]

via Developing pest-smart farmers in Cambodia — The Plantwise Blog

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Kathmandu Post



Integrated Pest Management has been adopted by a growing number of organic farms in all districts of Nepal

Arjun Neupane, a farmer in Dhaibung, Rasuwa, owns a farm that’s all organic. His prize produce is tomatoes, and they grow in a plastic-roofed shed that’s surrounded on all sides by marigold plants. The rest of his farmland, used for growing cauliflower and spinach, is spotted with plastic drums that house a slurry of buffalo dung and urine mixed with titepati, neem and sisnu leaves. It’s the employing of slurries of this kind that’s at the heart of a farming method called Integrated Pest Management (IPM)—a method that’s been adopted by a growing number of organic farms in all districts of Nepal.

The IPM philosophy is a simple one: It’s a way of using, as much as possible, plants (mostly those that grow in the wild) and animal waste to keep pest numbers down and fertilise the soil at the same time. The buffalo urine in the slurry, which Neupane ferries by the bucketloads to his vegetable beds, acts as a fertiliser—by adding nutrients such as ammonia in its natural form to the soil—and the plants used in the slurry kill germs and keep away animals such as rodents, with their bitterness. Live plants, too–such as the marigold plants around Neupane’s greenhouse—can be marshalled as a defensive front: in Neupane’s case, they keep at bay the nematodes, a kind of worm, which would otherwise prey on his tomatoes.

IPM took off in the late 90s in Nepal, with the government’s encouraging farmers to make use of the method as an alternative to depending on chemical fertlisers, which are harsher on the soil and whose use over time can lead to the land’s turning effete. The government knew that it had to wean the farmers off chemical fertilisers if they wanted to preserve the farmlands’ soil. The advent of globalisation had by then seen a marked increase in Nepali farmers’ switching to various types of chemical fertilisers and pesticides, which had become readily available in all markets across the country. And the farming sector had transformed from one which primarily used organic fertilisers and biological agents to one that relied increasingly on fertilisers that degraded the soil quality of the farms and which furthermore had untold adverse effects on the environment and in turn on public health.

Most farmers who use only chemical fertilisers are locked in a vicious cycle. The chemical fertilisers produce better yields, and as most other farmers now opt for using chemicals (even as they further degrade their land), they have to keep up if they want to compete in the marketplace. Furthermore, many of them have also taken to using industrial-strength pesticides to keep away pests—such as insects, disease-bearing pathogens, weeds, rodents, and mites—which are the major constraints to increasing agricultural production and which can cause productivity losses of up to 40 percent. This increase in the use of chemical pesticides ends up not only upsetting the natural balance of chemicals of the soils in the fields, but also leads to an increase in the populations of secondary pests.

It was to help those farmers who wanted to get back to using biopesticides that the concept of the IPM approach was pushed by the government. The first phase of IPM farming in Nepal was launched just before the turn of the century by the Department of Plant Resources, under the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives. The government was aided in its venture by various developmental partners and together they helped set up the practice for farmers in various districts, including Jhapa, Morang, Bara, Chitwan, Kapilvastu, Bardiya, Banke, Kailali, Ilam, Kavre, Syangja, Surkhet, Dadeldhura, Tanahu, Dhading, Mustang and Manang.

Ironically, the government had to sell the idea as a ‘modern’ method of farming, even though local versions of IPM were what the farmers used to work with before the farmers switched wholesale to chemical fertilisers. Wood ash, for example, has been widely used for pest control in west Nepal for generations. Today, the national IPM Programme seeks to teach the farmers how to find their way back, says Yubak Dhoj GC, a government official and former coordinator at the Plant Protection Directorate. To help farmers make the switch, the government and various non-governmental agencies have set up IPM farmer schools all across Nepal, in which farmers such as Neupane learn the science of using botanical pesticides, which can be made from more than 50 plant species readily available in Nepal: plants such as neem, marigold, titepati, sisnu, garlic and timur are used in IMP to ward off pests such as the cabbage butterfly larvae, hairy caterpillars, cutworms, red ants, termites and aphids.

Today, it is estimated that around 11,000 farmers in 17 districts have completely adopted IPM techniques and that the number is increasing at the rate of more than 10 percent each year. Thus there are quite a few farmers who are getting sold on the idea, but there still remains the challenge of helping the IPM farmers compete with those who still haven’t given up the use of chemical fertilisers. The IPM model requires more man-hours in the field; furthermore, as Neupane, says, it’s difficult for IPM farmers like him to compete with farmers who use chemical fertilisers, andwhose tomatoes look larger, redder and juicier than his.

According to GC, the IPM programme is at a crossroads now. He says the government has to play a larger role in helping farmers such as Neupane. At present, the agricultural produce grown using chemical fertilisers and the IPM methods are competing in the same markets. The government doesn’t have the mechanism in place to certify certain products as being organic. If that were to happen, Neupane thinks that he could sell his tomatoes to hotels in Dhunche, where the tourists who prefer organic produce could seek vegetables like the ones he grows.

In cities like Kathmandu, there are already many farmers who are able to sell their products in the niche markets that the organic farmers, who employ IPM, have carved for themselves. For the farmers outside the Valley, the main draw of IPM farming is that the soil will remain fertile in the long run. These farmer can only compete with those who use chemical fertilisers, says GC, if the government were to provide subsidies and help improve market access for them. “We have been successful in involving the farmers in the IPM approach but have failed to improve the accessibility to the market for their products. Thus it’s still difficult for most of them to benefit from the agriculture practice they are adopting,” says GC.

Posted on : 2014-05-03 08:15

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Press Release

Farming for Improved Ecosystem Services Seen as Economically Feasible
April 2014


Read this article
By changing row-crop management practices in economically and environmentally stable ways, US farms could contribute to improved water quality, biological diversity, pest suppression, and soil fertility while helping to stabilize the climate, according to an article in the May issue of BioScience. The article, based on research conducted over 25 years at the Kellogg Biological Station in southwest Michigan, further reports that Midwest farmers, especially those with large farms, appear willing to change their farming practices to provide these ecosystem services in exchange for payments. And a previously published survey showed that citizens are willing to make such payments for environmental services such as cleaner lakes.

The article is by G. Philip Robertson and six coauthors associated with the Kellogg Biological Station, which is part of the Long Term Ecological Research Network. The research analyzed by Robertson and colleagues investigated the yields and the environmental benefits achievable by growing corn, soybean, and winter wheat under regimes that use one third of the usual amount of fertilizer—or none at all—with “cover crops” fertilizing the fields in winter. The research also examined “no-till” techniques. The regime that used fewer chemicals resulted in more than 50 percent reductions in the amount of nitrogen that escaped into groundwater and rivers, with crop yields close to those of standard management. Nitrogen pollution is a major problem in inland waterways and coastal regions, where it contributes to the formation of “dead zones.”

The no-till and reduced chemical regimes also mitigated greenhouse warming by taking up greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, in contrast to standard management, which produces significant greenhouse warming by emitting nitrous oxide. The zero-chemical regime mitigated greenhouse warming enough to compensate for the emissions produced under standard management. All three regimes also led to more fertile soil compared with conventional management.

The environmentally improved farming practices that Robertson and his colleagues studied are more complex than conventional ones. But the authors found that although sustained profitability is generally farmers’ overriding concern, substantial proportions would accept payments to adopt such practices, especially those with large farms. And a 2009 survey in Michigan found that members of the public indicated they were willing to pay higher taxes so that land managers could participate in stewardship programs to benefit lakes; a smaller number were willing to pay for a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

Robertson and his colleagues argue that in coming decades, human population and income growth will drive agriculture to ever-higher intensities. The danger is that it will become more vulnerable to climate extremes and pest outbreaks. “Now is the time to guide this intensification in a way that enhances the delivery of ecosystems services that are not currently marketed,” they conclude.

This Overview and other articles in the May 2014 issue of BioScience are now published online as Advance Access at http://bioscience.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/recent .

BioScience is published monthly by Oxford Journals. Follow BioScience on Twitter @BioScienceAIBS.

Oxford Journals is a division of Oxford University Press. Oxford Journals publishes well over 300 academic and research journals covering a broad range of subject areas, two-thirds of which are published in collaboration with learned societies and other international organizations. The division been publishing journals for more than a century, and as part of the world’s oldest and largest university press, has more than 500 years of publishing expertise behind it. Follow Oxford Journals on Twitter @OxfordJournals

Jennifer Williams
Production Coordinator, BioScience

American Insitute of Biological Sciences (AIBS)
1900 Campus Commons Drive, Suite 200
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703-674-2500 x209

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Inside 30 years Vietnam has gone from importing rice to becoming the world’s second largest rice exporter. Over-use of pesticides is damaging the environment, but farmers in the Mekong Delta say they’ve found a solution.

Vietnam rice field

There is a hint of gold in the verdant rice fields that fill the horizon in Kien Giang province – a sign for the farmers here in the south west of Vietnam’s Mekong Delta that harvesting time is not far away. But along the paths between the paddies, known as bunds, there are also neat row of speckled color – yellow, orange and purple nectar flowers – that are not part of the typical pastoral scene here.
The floral borders are not for decoration though, they are part of an ecological engineering project aimed at encouraging the natural predators of harmful pests and thereby reducing the use of pesticides. In particular the project targets the brown planthopper, a winged insect which devastates rice crops across Asia by sucking the sap until the plants shrivel and die, causing discolored patches on the field known as hopper burn.


Le Quang Cuong stands beside an ecologicaly engineered rice field

Nguyen Van Ray, a leathery-faced man in his 70s, and his wife Nguyen Thi Hai, grow just under half a hectare of rice in Trung Hoa village. Although they still use fungicide, the couple don’t spray pesticides any more.
“Before the project we used pesticides every week, 40 days after sowing we used the pesticide many times,” Ray says. “We applied it every week by hand. We would irrigate the fields then spray the pesticide at the base of the plant.”
It’s not surprising. The couple have bitter experience of brown planthoppers, they say.

Brown Planthopper.

The tiny brown planthopper can destroy rice crops in quick time. “In 2009 and 2010 we lost everything to hopper burn. We invested money in fertilizer, seed, labour and when there was hopper burn it destroyed the crop so we lost everything,” he says.

New projects sprouting up
Ray and Hai are among 45 families in Kien Giang province who have taken part in the ecological engineering project since 2011, run by the Southern Regional Plant Protection Centre and the International Rice Research Institute.
The concept was introduced in rice farming in China in 2008, and later on in Vietnam and Thailand. More recently, the Philippines also launched a project.

To kick-start the process rice farmers are initially given seedlings, which they plant on the bund and irrigate together with the rice plants. Although many of the nectar flowers die during the dry season, enough survive and go to seed for the next rice growing cycle.
When the flowers are in bloom, a planthopper predator – like the tiny parasitoid wasp for instance – then lives off the pollen and honey from the flowering plant. After living in the nectar flower on the bund, they fly to find the insect nest and then lay their eggs inside the eggs of the insect nest. Soon after that, the insect numbers generally die off.
So far, thanks to a publicity campaign involving billboards, leaflets and even a television series, more than 7,800 farmers now practice ecological engineering in Vietnam with demonstration sites being carried out in four provinces. According to the Southern Regional Plant Protection Centre, these farmers have “significantly reduced” pesticide use and no brown planthopper outbreaks have been reported from these sites since the project began.

When rice is big business
Following institutional and economic reforms in the 1980s, Vietnam has recently evolved from being a chronic rice importer to become the world’s second biggest rice exporter, after India. The Mekong Delta region produces around half of the country’s rice.
Like other countries in Asia, pesticide use has skyrocketed in recent decades too, propelled by aggressive marketing. Le Quang Cuong from the Southern Regional Plant Protection Centre, says that often when they are introducing farmers to the ecological engineering project in one village, in a neighboring village pesticide companies would be meeting residents to sell their products.
But, slowly the project is taking effect nonetheless. One reason farmers are moving away from pesticides and towards flowering plants is due to the cost benefits. Using pesticides costs about 800,000 dong (27.30 euros, $18.80) per hectare per season. Buying the seeds for the right flowers comes in at just a fraction of that price.
In December last year, the local plant protection center in An Giang province, bordering Cambodia, decided to expand the project to include vegetable farmers. Official Dang Thanh Phong says that expanding the project to include vegetable farms was an obvious choice.
Farmers Nguyen Van Ray and Nguyen Thi Hai say the new project has saved their rice

“The pesticide usage level in vegetable growing is much higher than in rice production,” he told DW. “They spray once every three or four days.”
Farmer Huynh Ngoc Dien, one of the vegetable farmers taking part in the pilot stage of the ecological engineering project, says he’s reduced the amount of pesticide he sprays by 20 percent.
“When I grow nectar flowers I am not worried, but some people in our village still spray pesticides, people inside and outside the project,” he says. “It’s still the first time for them so they don’t know the benefits they can get if they just opt for flowers.”

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Growing rice the sustainable way: LEGATO holds its 3rd annual conference

March 19th, 2014
In a world facing the challenges of climate change, demographic boom and deficit in food resources, the word “sustainable” and the concept behind it become increasingly relevant. Sustainability in the way humanity uses available resources is key to a brighter and greener future.

In the context of sustainable food production, there is a clear need for crop productivity increases and diversification. Optimising rice ecosystem functions and services in Southeast Asia and their stabilisation under future land use and climate change, is the main focus of the project LEGATO ‘Land-use intensity and Ecological Engineering – Assessment Tools for risks and Opportunities in irrigated rice based production systems’.

The 3rd annual LEGATO conference, which took place from 10 to 15 March 2014 in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, addresses these pertinent issues of sustainable rice ecosystems in Southeast Asia. The conference aims at looking at various aspects of sustainable rice farming, the latest innovations in this area and their implementation in the socio-cultural, economic and ecological specifications of Southeast Asia, presenting results from LEGATO research and its implementation through the project’s case studies.

One of the hot topics was silicon (Si) as a beneficial element for rice plants. A sufficient Si supply can enhance the strength and rigidity of rice plants, improve their resistance against pathogens, the efficiency of fertilizers, and prevent the uptake of toxic metals. Preliminary results reported at the conference showed that the studied rice fields in the Philippines are characterized by high content of plant-available Si, while in Vietnam the content is much lower. The supposed reason for the differences is that the release of Si by mineral weathering is larger in Philippine than in Vietnamese soils.

Variations in plant-available Si within regions might be due to management of rice straw, which comprises more than 70% of total plant Si uptake. Results of interviews with farmers carried out within the project confirmed that some farmers burn the straw after harvest and apply ash to the fields, and some farmers export part of the straw from fields. The export might deplete plant-available Si in soils.

Among the other topics discussed during the conference are the impact of rice management practices on biodiversity and its functional role in rice ecosystems, the natural ways for control of pests, the use of entertainment education in restoration of rice landscape biodiversity, pesticide use and abuse and many others.

Representatives from agricultural and other applied organisations of Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam (such as the Vietnam Plant Protection Association, and the Thai Agro Business Association) also shared their valuable experience on some good and bad practices on land management and rice farming in SE Asia.

“We make use of the experience of a wide range of stakeholders, reaching from farmers to agricultural extension services, governmental bodies and scientists. We integrate this knowledge and use it as reference for the development of sustainable land use strategies and practices. Taking this integration very seriously is a very unique approach for research-based future sustainability of ecosystems and agricultural production” says the LEGATO coordinator Josef Settele of the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ, Halle. Germany.

Provided by Pensoft Publishers

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Source: http://ricehoppers.net/

by MONI on JULY 26, 2013

Dr M.M. Escalada (m.escalada@gmail.com)


Poster of the conference

The International Conference on Biodiversity and IPM: Working together for a sustainable future was hosted by Sam Ratulangi University, in Manado, North Sulawesi, Indonesia. This is one of first Conference to integrate biodiversity and IPM issues. Among the organizers and sponsors were the IPM Innovation Lab based in Virginia Tech, the USAID, Clemson University and the International Association for the Plant Protection Sciences (IAPPS). North Sulawesi is uniquely situated between two continents and two oceans, the Indian and Pacific and the closely related to the Wallace line (link to ) named after the English naturalist, Alfred Russell Wallace, the father of biogeography. With much of the marine biodiversity well maintained, Manado the capital, still a favorite destination of divers and naturalists.

Biodiversity is commonly associated with wildlife species conservation and in agriculture it is commonly associated with genetic diversity of germplasm. Yet in agriculturally managed ecosystems, the floral and faunal biodiversity is large and complex but yet often ignore. TheMillennium Ecosystem Assessment (MEA) convened by the United Nations in 2000 provides a useful framework to structure into ecosystems linkage between biodiversity and ecosystem services. The ecosystem services that are most pertinent to sustainable agriculture may be grouped into provisioning, regulating, supporting and benefits from cultural and aesthetics services.

There are hundreds of arthropod species in rice ecosystems and only a few are pests of economic importance. Most of the arthropod species are service providers to regulatory services, like pest /disease regulation, pest invasion resistance, pollination and soil formation through ecological functions such as predation, parasitization, decomposition and pollination (Heong, 2009).


Biodiversity, ecosystem functioning and ecosystem services

The Conference was attended by more than 200 participants presenting 48 papers on IPM and biodiversity being used in pest management in estates, rice and horticultural crops. The governor of North Sulawesi, Dr Sinyo Harry Sarundajang opened the Conference followed by 3 keynote addresses: Dr Jan van Tol from the Naturalis Biodiversity Center in the Netherlands spoke on “The biological exploration of northern Sulawesi by Alfred Russell Wallace (1823 – 1913) and the other 19th Century pioneers”, Dr K.L. Heong of IRRI spoke of the “Consequences of ecosystem breakdown induced by insecticide misuse in rice” and Dr Carlo Fadda of Bioversity International in Nairobi, Kenya presented “A risk minimizing argument for traditional crop varietal diversity use to reduce pest and disease damage in agricultural ecosystems”

In 2000 K. Kiritani published a paper proposing a new concept ‘Integrated biodiversity management (IBM)’, that will incorporate IPM and conservation objectives. This Conference thus marks the beginning of the IBM concept that can lead to improved management of pest, diseases and ecosystem services.


Heong, KL 2009. Are planthopper problems due to breakdown in ecosystem services?  Pp 221 – 232. In Heong, K.L. and Hardy, B. (eds.) Planthoppers – New threats to the sustainability of intensive rice production systems in Asia. International Rice Research Institute, Los Banos, Philippines (Click here for pdf) .

Kiritani, K. 2000. Integrated biodiversity management in paddy fields: shift of paradigm from IPM toward IBM. Integrated Pest Management Reviews 5: 175–183. (Click here for pdf)

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Arab News — Saudi Arabia News, Middle East News, Opinion, Economy and more.


Saturday 6 July 2013

Last Update 6 July 2013 2:17 am

The Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs has founded a pest museum as part of its efforts to achieve broader environmental health awareness.
The ministry launched the pest museum project after conducting a study between 2009 and 2011 on pests commonly found in Najran, Jazan, Asir and the Baha provinces, Yahya Al-Hoqail, director of public health at the ministry, said in a statement to the Saudi Press Agency yesterday.
The project initially included a database on pests that are commonly combated by municipalities in various provinces before founding the museum at the ministry’s headquarters, aimed at raising awareness about the dangers posed to humans.
Exhibits at the museum were collected from the southern region over a period of 24 months. Captions detailing their places of breeding, geographical distribution and their peak breeding times are also supplied.
The ministry has also adopted an environmental-friendly strategy of integrated pest management using techniques such as engineering combat, genetic combat and biological combat. The strategy also stresses the minimal use of pesticides and choosing the most suitable pesticide where needed, said Al-Hoqail.
The museum also exhibits six publications issued by the ministry on public health management and spreading awareness about the dangers posed by pests, such as mosquitoes, fleas, rodents, stray animals and birds. The publications are also distributed to municipalities and other local administrations, besides being posted on Internet sites.

See: http://www.arabnews.com/news/457187

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by MONI on AUGUST 28, 2012

Joy Delos Reyes, International Rice Research Institute, Los Baños, Philippines

Many provinces in the Mekong Delta have started ecological engineering which is transforming the landscape.

Ecological engineering (EE) was introduced in rice pest management in 2008 (Heong and Hardy 2009) to restore biodiversity and resilience to secondary pest outbreaks such as planthoppers and leaf folders.  First experiments started in Jin Hua, China ( in 2009 followed by further experiments in Vietnam and Thailand.  More recently a new projectLEGATO was launched in 3 sites in the Philippines.

In its continuing commitment to attain food security and reduce poverty through sustainable technology-based agriculture and fisheries sector, the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) under the Department of Agriculture (DA) of the Philippines recently approved the project “Developing Ecological Engineering Approaches to Restore and Conserve Ecosystem Services for Pest Management for Sustainable Rice Production in the Philippines.” This 2-year project is in partnership with the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and will be undertaken in selected sites in Laguna, Regional Agricultural Research Centers in Iloilo and Cagayan de Oro.

Ecological engineering aims at enhancing biodiversity through providing food and shelter resources to predators and conserving biodiversity through reducing insecticide use. These two pillars of EE can build up natural enemies and restore important ecosystem services and resilience that are vital in reducing vulnerability to planthopper outbreaks.  The Project will focus on capacity building of Filipino researchers and pest management practitioners with EE concepts and techniques to increase ecological functions. In addition training on basic principles of insect ecology and sampling methods as well as arthropod taxonomy and identification will also be provided. The Project will also provide opportunities to Filipino partners to exchange experiences with EE practitioners in China, Thailand and Vietnam.  The training and research of the 2 year Project will help prepare DA to scale up EE to Filipino rice farmers to enhance adoption through the use of communication media, like TV series  and media campaigns.

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