Crop Insect Effects on Yields and How to Pre-plan
Since the beginning of what we consider today to be agriculture, which was around 10,000 years ago, farmers have had to compete with harmful organisms to insure food security – insects and pests.
As with abiotic causes of crop losses including the lack or excess of water in the growing season, extreme temperatures, high or low irradiance and nutrient supply – biotic stressors have the potential to reduce crop production substantially.
Pest insects can have adverse and damaging impacts on agricultural production and market access, the natural environment, and our lifestyle. Crop plants are attacked by many pests that affect plant survival, growth, and reproduction and as a result influence crop yield.
The magnitude and frequency as well as the net effect of such interactive outcomes on crop plants are not well understood (1). This is why it is so important to speak with your agronomist about potential issues for the upcoming season and work out what crop protection inputs you may need.
Insects are responsible for two major kinds of damage to growing crops. First is direct injury done to the plant by the feeding insect, which eats leaves or burrows in stems, fruit, or roots. There are hundreds of pest species of this type, both in larvae and adults, among orthopterans, homopterans, heteropterans, coleopterans, lepidopterans, and dipterans.
The second type is indirect damage in which the insect itself does little or no harm but transmits a bacterial, viral, or fungal infection into a crop. Examples include the viral diseases of sugar beets and potatoes, carried from plant to plant by aphids (2). Without preventive protection with chemicals, natural enemies, host plant resistance, and other non chemical controls, 70% of crops could have been lost to pests.
Weeds produced the highest incidence or loss (30%), with animal pests, pathogens, and plant diseases being less important (losses of 23 and 17%). The efficacy of control of pathogens, plant disease management, and animal pests only reaches 32 and 39%, respectively, compared to almost 74% for weed control. Taking into consideration all of the above, a well developed and nimble crop protection plan is essential ensuring growers get their highest possible yields.
Benefits of insecticide application
Here are some of the benefits of insecticide application:
increased yields of crops because of protection from defoliation and diseases;
prevention of much spoilage of stored foods; and
prevention of certain diseases, which conserves health and has saved the lives of millions of people and domestic animals.
Pests destroy an estimated 37% of the potential yield of plant crops in North America. Some of this damage can be reduced by the use of insecticides (4).
Let’s break this down further.
Insecticides can increase yields, improve production & income
They are a simple and effective way of controlling pest populations that would otherwise lead to the damage of crops. Without insecticides, large portions of cultivated crops would be lost, leading to a loss of income for the farmers, and also a waste of the resources that were used to grow the crops. With insecticides, it is possible to have higher yields and
Insecticides improve the quality of crops
Consumers expect pest-free fruits and vegetables and insecticides play a direct role in ensuring the crop quality isn't hampered by insects. Controlling insects also controls some plant diseases that are spread by insects which can lead to quality deterioration.
Insecticides can provide quick pest control
Insecticides make it possible to control pests quickly. Even when there is a high population of damaging pests, in most cases insecticides can be used to reduce the pests within hours.
Insecticides can provide protection against multiple pest species
Some insecticides provide broad-spectrum protection and some can be used in combination with another which makes it possible to control many pest species at the same time.
Insecticides are constantly developed to provide protection against new pest species
As pests evolve, chemical insecticides are formulated to provide protection sooner than other alternative methods of pest control (5).
While the insects and pests are sadly inevitable there are plenty of options available to growers to ensure their yields are safe. Another factor to consider is planning ahead to ensure that you have access to all crop protection products you need and are not being caught short.
The last two years have shown us that the best chemical is the one that is one on your farm and when it comes to insects and pests it is extremely important to plan as far ahead as possible to secure your products for the year. It is imperative to stay abreast with any pest and insect trends that are emerging during the season to remain proactive and on the front foot in the battle for the best possible yields.
To view FBN’s full range of crop protection products please visit the link below: www.fbn.com/en-au/direct
1. Gagic, V., Riggi, L., Ekbom, B., Malsher, G., Rusch, A., & Bommarco, R. (2016). Interactive effects of pests increase seed yield. Ecology And Evolution, 6(7), 2149-2157. doi: 10.1002/ece3.2003
2. Insect - Damage to growing crops. (2022). Retrieved 1 April 2022, from https://www.britannica.com/animal/insect/Damage-to-growing-crops
3. Yield Losses Due to Pests - AGRIVI. (2022). Retrieved 1 April 2022, from https://www.agrivi.com/blog/yield-losses-due-to-pests/
4. Insecticides - Benefits Of Insecticide Use. (2022). Retrieved 1 April 2022, from https://science.jrank.org/pages/3599/Insecticides-Benefits-insecticide-use.html#:~:text=Humans%20have%20attained%20important%20benefits,the%20lives%20of%20millions%20of
5. UPL - Corporate News. (2022). Retrieved 1 April 2022, from https://www.upl-ltd.com/insecticides
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