Insect pest problems in tropical agroforestry systems: Contributory factors and strategies for management
Authors: Rao, M.; Singh, M.; Day, R.
Source: Agroforestry Systems, Volume 50, Number 3, 1 December 2000 , pp. 243-277(35)
Abstract:Agroforestry trees are attacked by a wide spectrum of insects at all stages of their growth just like other annual and perennial crops. Pest management in agroforestry has not received much attention so far, but recent emphasis on producing high value tree products in agroforestry and using improved germplasm in traditional systems, and emergence of serious pest problems in some promising agroforestry systems have increased awareness on risks posed by pests. Insects may attack one or more species within a system and across systems in the landscape, so pest management strategies should depend on the nature of the insect and magnitude of its damage. Although greater plant diversity in agroforestry is expected to increase beneficial arthropods, diversity by itself may not reduce pests. Introduction of tree germplasm from a narrow genetic base and intensive use of trees may lead to pest outbreaks. In simultaneous agroforestry systems, a number of factors governing tree—crop—environment interactions, such as diversity of plant species, host range of the pests, microclimate, spatial arrangement and tree management modify pest infestations by affecting populations of both herbivores and natural enemies. Trees also affect pest infestations by acting as barriers to movement of insects, masking the odours emitted by other components of the system and sheltering herbivores and natural enemies. In sequential agroforestry systems, it is mostly the soil-borne and diapausing insects that cause and perpetuate damage to the common hosts in tree—crop rotations over seasons or years. An integrated approach combining host-plant resistance to pests, exploiting alternative tree species, measures that prevent pest build up but favour natural enemies and biological control is suggested for managing pests in agroforestry. Species substitution to avoid pests is feasible only if trees are grown for ecological services such as soil conservation and low value products such as fuelwood, but not for trees yielding specific and high value products. For exploiting biological control as a potent, low cost and environmentally safe tool for pest management in agroforestry, research should focus on understanding the influence of ecological and management factors on the dynamics of insect pest-natural enemy populations. Scientists and policy makers in national and international institutions, and donors are urged to pay more attention to pest problems in agroforestry to harness the potential benefits of agroforestry.
Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: Email: email@example.com
Publication date: 1 December 2000