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On the competitiveness of Diabrotica virgifera virgifera damage abatement strategies in Hungary: a bio-economic approach

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Diabrotica virgifera virgifera Le Conte or western corn rootworm (WCR) is a major pest of cultivated maize, Zea mays L., introduced into Europe in 1992. Since then, the beetle spread through Central Europe, leading to a continuous pest population in 11 European countries. This article presents an economic assessment of different damage abatement strategies against this invasive species in the Hungarian maize sector. A bio-economic model, using Monte Carlo sampling, estimates the potential damage from WCR under no control and the value created by Bt maize, seed treatment, soil insecticides and cultural control. At the same time, potential market shares for the different damage abatement options under perfect information are deducted. The potential damages under a no control scenario are estimated at €176/ha for grain maize farmers on average, which points out the need for well-designed damage abatement strategies. For land-constrained farmers cultural control is a valuable damage abatement strategy, being the optimal choice in 69% of the cases. In monoculture Bt maize is the best option as it creates the highest value in 78% of the cases. However, as Bt maize active against WCR is not deregulated in the European Union, soil insecticides in 54% of the cases and seed treatment in 46% of the cases are the rational choices. As the value created by Bt maize is positive, not deregulating Bt maize in Hungary leads to benefits foregone ranging from €16/ha for land-constrained grain farmers to €49/ha in the case of silage maize under monoculture. Finally, the results of the sensitivity analysis can be used to develop a multi-criteria tool to aid farmers in applying the appropriate damage abatement strategy. This could decrease the dependency of farmers on scouting techniques and economic thresholds of WCR presence.
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Keywords: Bt maize; ex ante impact assessment; heterogeneity; invasive species; western corn rootworm

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1:  Division of Agricultural and Food Economics, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Heverlee, Belgium 2:  Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI, USA

Publication date: 2010-06-01

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