Rational Pesticide Use

v. 25/1/2009

Pesticides and Good Agricultural Practice (GAP)
| Good Agricultural Practice | Pesticide properties & issues | Better application | Biopesticides | Projects |

Towards Integrated Crop Management

Selection of appropriate planting material and cultural techniques - such as sanitation and crop timing - often give the greatest proportional increase in healthy yield under pressure from insects and diseases and are straightforward to implement. However, there are reasons, besides pest control, for such measures - hence the use of the term Integrated Crop Management or ICM - sometimes further expanded in scope to Integrated Farm Management. Rational pesticide use (RPU) is the sub-set of ICM which aims to maximise efficacy and mitigate the problems associated with agrochemicals through improving precision in biological activity of control agents, application and timing.

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) appears to be loosing currency as a concept, having come to mean different things to different people (and organisations). The original IPM strategy aimed to optimise all available techniques in order to maintain pest populations at levels below those causing economic injury. Although some believe that one of the major objectives of IPM is the reduction or removal of chemical pesticide use, in practice many farmers need to prevent devastating losses in certain crops (especially in hotter climates where pest pressure is often higher). In addition, the focus of IPM has often been on insect control, but "pesticides" also include herbicides, fungicides and other chemical agents. Clearly, arguments that pesticide use should be abandoned are unrealistic (especially with non-staple crops).

A more rigorous approach to application techniques can also improve operator safety, resistance management and, perhaps most interesting to the farmer, reduce pesticide costs - hence RPU.

Similar ICM-RPU concepts are being promoted elsewhere, which all attempt to achieve sustainable agriculture, with a low environmental impact: through a combination of appropriate technologies, but not necessarily excluding the use of pesticides. The European Initiative for the Sustainable development in Agriculture (EISA) coordinates a number of National organisations such as the FARRE association (lutte raisonée or supervised pest control) in France and LEAF in the UK. Asian examples include the "green agriculture" initiative promoted by the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (which together with "white agriculture" - i.e. biotechnology - focuses especially on techniques such as the use of microbial agents), and "clean production" in Viet Nam (where crop protection may include limited use of pesticides and is combined with more careful use of human waste as a fertiliser). Commodity support organisations such as the World Cocoa Foundation now "… endorses the minimal, safe use of appropriate agrochemicals … and will support projects that move the sector towards low-input cocoa production systems requiring minimal use of approved agrochemicals, and research which makes these conventional pest and disease control measures more effective."

Inter-Institutional Working Group on IPM: position on use of synthetic pesticides

The paradigm that probably has been accepted most with policy makers is simply ...


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