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http://www.ekantipur.com/the-kathmandu-post/2014/05/02/onsaturday/back-to-basics/262360.html

Kathmandu Post

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By: PRAGATI SHAHI

KATHMANDU, MAY 02 –
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

http://www.aibs.org/bioscience-press-releases/140407_farming_for_improved_ecosystem_services_seen_as_economically_feasible.html

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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)
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703-674-2500 x209
jwilliams@aibs.org
http://www.aibs.org

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http://www.dw.de/vietnam-uses-ecological-engineering-to-save-rice/a-17571615

BIODIVERSITY

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.
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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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PHYS.ORG

http://phys.org/wire-news/156687457/growing-rice-the-sustainable-way-legato-holds-its-3rd-annual-con.html

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

This Phys.org Science News Wire page contains a press release issued by an organization mentioned above and is provided to you “as is” with little or no review from Phys.Org staff.

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Source: http://ricehoppers.net/

by MONI on JULY 26, 2013

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

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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).

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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.

References

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.

JEDDAH: ARAB NEWS

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

by
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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