The control of pests and diseases in agriculture is generally managed by using chemical pesticides. However, the use of these chemical pesticides for long term has given rise to many problems such as increased resistance of pests and pathogens to various chemicals, creating environmental pollution and causing harmful effects to human health directly or with residual effects of chemicals on food.
The biological management of pests and disease using microorganisms as biological control agents and biopesticides can be used as alternative to chemical pesticides in control of pests and diseases. Also, it is the most beneficial technique and also cost-effective. Because it is environmentally friendly without causing pollution and also doesn’t cause any harmful effect to human health, besides increasing the fertility of soils.
Different kinds of micro-organisms are used for biological control of pests and diseases however Bacteria, Fungi, Viruses and nematodes play a major role in biological method of pest control.
The benefits of using biopesticides
1. Reduces the use of traditional chemical pesticides, without affecting crop yield
2. The biopesticides are pest-specific (broad spectrum chemical pesticides may affect organisms other than the targeted pests, such as plants, birds, insects and mammals)
3. Effective in very small quantities and even decompose quickly
4. Use in rotation with other biopesticides leads to optimal pest management while avoiding resistance problems
5. Biopesticides do not have harvest restrictions (A harvest restriction is a waiting period between pesticide application and the crop harvest)
6. Finally, the use of biopesticides give natural agricultural products that are normally consumed and do not have residue concerns
I. Biological control of Pests
The bio-agents such as Bacteria- (Bacillus thuringiensis), Fungi (Beauveria, Metarhizium, Verticillium, Nevorium), Virus (NPV), etc are widely used for control of various pests in agriculture. These bioagents will produce non-toxic biological material (protein) which is harmful to pests. The bacterial and fungal bio-agents should be sprayed @ 1gm/L of water.
Note: Bacillus thuringiensis will kill the silk worms hence it should not be used in sericulture community fields.
The NPV (Nuclear polyhedrosis virus) is majorly used for biological control of pests predominantly for controlling moths and butterflies. NPV is widely used for controlling Spodoptera litura and Helicoverpa armigera in Cotton (Boll worm), Pulses (pod borer), Chilli & Capsicum (fruit borer), etc.
In cotton NPV @ 200 LE per acre should be sprayed. In other crops like pulses, vegetables NPV @ 100 LE per acre should be sprayed.
II. Biological control of Diseases
The bio-agents such as Bacteria (Bacillus subtilis, Pseudomonas fluorescens), Fungi (Trichoderma spp., Paecilomyces lilancinus, Pochonia chlamydosporia, etc) are used for controlling various soil and seed borne fungal & bacterial diseases as well as nematodes in wide range of commercially grown agriculture and horticulture crops.
The bio-agents can be used in different ways such as for Seed treatment, Seedling root treatment, Foliar Spray or Soil application at the time of planting. These bio-agents will kill the pathogens present in soil as well as seeds including the major such as damping off, collar rot, wilt, etc.
In this way, the micro-organisms (bio-agents) play a very significant role in control of pests and diseases of crop plants. These bio-agents/micro-organisms are the primary source of soil decomposers directing key ecosystem processes such as organic matter decomposition, nutrient cycling and thereby maintaining plant health and crop productivity. Thus, agricultural practices affecting soil micro-organisms should be avoided by using bio-agents for control of pests and diseases and by incorporation of microbial biofertilizers which increases soil fertility, nutrient uptake reducing leaching, runoff and environmental pollution.
Being environmental friendly, the beneficial microbes are ideal component of the IPM systems for the control of pests and diseases as well as for improving soil fertility.
Dr. Asha, K.M.,
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Disclaimer: The performance of the product (s) is subject to usage as per manufacturer guidelines. Read enclosed leaflet of the product(s) carefully before use. The use of this product(s)/ information is at the discretion of user.
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