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Enhancing Management of Rice Insect Pests Through Ecological Engineering
26.09.2012

Ecological engineering is the development of strategies to maximize ecosystem services through improving biodiversity to provide refugia, food and breeding places for predators, parasitoids and pollinators. It involves human activity that modifies the environment according to ecological principles. The aim is to build, strengthen and restore ecosystem services for sustainable pest management. It considers vegetation diversity playing a central role in habitat manipulation like planting of flowering plants as source of nectar and pollen for parasitoids and other beneficial organisms.
A study was conducted at the Central Experimental Station (CES), PhilRice to determine the impact of Palayamanan (an integrated farming system - crops, livestock and aquaculture) in the conservation of beneficial organisms. Rice field in the Palayamanan, the vegetable area and a rice field away from Palayamanan (rice monoculture) were monitored at different crop stages for population of key pests, damage due to stemborer and beneficial organisms. The population of the brown planthopper (BPH), Nilaparvata lugens, whitebacked planthopper (WBPH) Sogatella furcifera and green leafhoppers (GLH) Nephotetix spp. was higher in rice monoculture field than the rice field in the Palayamanan. Generally, population of predators, and egg parasitism of BPH were higher in Palayamanan rice field than in rice monoculture. In addition, damage due to stem borer (%white head) was lower in the Palayamanan rice field than in the rice monoculture.
The higher population of natural enemies in rice field of Palayamanan was attributed to the proximity of the field in an area with high vegetation diversity that includes several kinds of vegetables and weeds that serve as source of food and refugia for these beneficial organisms. Palayamanan vegetable field serve as refugia of beneficial organisms as shown by the number of predators, parasitoids recorded and percent parasitism of BPH eggs.

Source: Gertrudo S. Arida, Supervising Science Research Specialist at the 25th National Rice R&D conference (Sept 4-6, 2012) held at PhilRice, Philippines.

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