Deakin Communicating Science 2016

EES 200/101

Living With Pests


Managing my ‘veggie patch’ is arduous to say the least, however control of pests and weeds on a 6m squared patch of soil is manageable and seldom do I have to resort to pesticides and herbicides. Simply managing weeds and insect populations becomes a staple 4 or so hours on the weekend PUT INTO ACTIVE – EG I SPEND JUST 4-5 HOURS A WEEK ERADICATING WEEDS AND PESTS. So if I can live with pests why can’t the agricultural industry ?


Post World War 2 the viability and availability of synthetic pest control agents became common practice. The effects of synthetic pesticides and herbicides are beneficial to growers but they have not come without their issues. Economically synthetic pest control has being largely sound with 1$ spent on a spent on pest control yielding 4$ return a crop. [EVIDENCE REFERENCE]This has led to an ongoing battle [THIS SENTENCE READ THAT THE SOUND ECONOMICS HAS LED TO AN ONGOING BATTLE. NEED A BETTER WAY TO LINK THE TWO] between human innovation in pest control and pest tolerance – TO INSECTICIDES AND OTHER CONTROL METHODS. Pests become tolerant to a certain control agent and people have to stay ahead of the curve producing new formulas or chemicals to win the battle. It’s not about winning the battle per se but rather by winning the war. ARGUABLE POINT – MOST SCIENTISTS I KNOW SAY THE WAR CAN’T BE WON. LIKE NATURE IT WILL BE A CONSTANT BATTLE

My Enemies Enemy is my Friend.

The idea of integrated pest management (IPM) involves controlling pests in ways that involves knowing your enemy. Biological control being nothing new in agricultural practices is a key component for combating pests. An example of biological control would be the use of earwig populations in controlling aphids in apple crops. Earwigs !!


Now this is weird!

Whilst earwigs are an acceptable predator for aphid control in apple orchards this control agent would be a disastrous introduction into a peach orchard, as earwigs love peaches ! Entomologists and ecologists play a vital role in the key understanding of pests and predators and often work in conjunction with farmers and the agricultural sector.

Pests are part of the Environment

A concept unique to IPM strategies is the notion of ‘acceptable pest levels’ which means that a certain level of pest infestation is acceptable and another is not. This could also be expanded to say certain pests in some crops are negligible whilst others are not. The overarching framework is to use the minimum in synthetic control agents as there are times whereas a classic approach of pest control is warranted.

Jump on Board!

So how to get people onto the IPM train ? It would see from the outset a fiscally beneficial outcome is what moves private industries and individuals. However it’s hard to ween industries and individuals off established pest control. WHY IS THIS SO – EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT THIS?? Financially this could possibly be the one area IPM can really succeed, as the forward planning into pest control means a minimal reliance on synthetic pest control reducing once considered factored costs. IPM strategies are involved with peak industry bodies in Australia such as AUSVEG and governmental bodies such as the EPA. With representation in the agricultural sector I would be pressed to not see the ball moving. Whilst the environmental approach to IPM strategies are noble and well warranted, bottom line $$ draw-cards are surely not to be overlooked. FIND SOME RESEARCH THAT HAS INVESTIGATED WHERE IPM HAS BEEN INTRODUCED AND WORKED AND DONE SOME EVALUATION AS TO WHY IT WORKED BARTLETT (2008)




University of Maryland –







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This entry was posted on April 19, 2016 by in Burwood - Wednesday 11am and tagged , , .

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