Thursday, May 8, 2014

Training held on ecological management of pests

Participants process samples from the IRRI fields to assess invertebrate damage.
Photo by Macario Montecillo
Management of rice pests (rodents, weeds, insects, birds, and golden apple snails) needs both a strong ecological and social dimension. A training course on ecological management of pests in rice agroecosystems at IRRI headquarters from 4 to 15 November 2013 brought together animal and plant scientists, communication specialists, and social scientists to share advances in this area.

Seventeen participants came from all over Asia and two from the United Kingdom—a mix of researchers, extension workers, and students. These participants were given the opportunity to acquire knowledge and field skills in (1) applying knowledge of ecology toward managing rodents, weeds, and insects in rice agroecosystems; (2) using the scientific approach to study pest management at a landscape level; (3) applying field and computer technologies that lead to better management; (4) using decision analysis of pest problems, and determining the processes and factors that influence farmers’ decisions; and (5) using the principles for effective transfer of knowledge to end users.

Dr. Alex Stuart demonstrates the identifying features
of a Norway rat (Rattus norvegicus) that the group
trapped in the local market.
Photo by Macario Montecillo
At the start of the course, the participants individually presented their current or proposed projects on pest management. After two weeks of intensive lectures and field work, they reported on what they would do differently given what they had learned from the course.

Field activities involved learning to build a trap-barrier system and installing rat traps in the field and in the market, and identifying insect pests and weeds. Participants also experienced bird watching and snail and insect sampling.

Adding a social dimension to crop protection, the participants conducted key informant interviews, focus group discussions, and surveys with farmers, and learned how to do systems analysis. They also practiced developing key messages for identified technologies (e.g., weed management) and thinking of appropriate communication tools and strategies to promote these technologies to target audiences.

“As a trainee, the course has shown me different parts of the agroecosystem that I have considered before but not had a great deal of knowledge about,” says Richard Smedley, a PhD student in bird ecology. “For example, weeds have always been a consideration in my work but I know very little about them. As a resource person, enthusiastic trainees have approached me with questions about birds, and it really shows how some participants are now considering birds in rice fields, their effects, and the ecosystem as a whole.”

Participants learn to construct a rodent trap barrier system.
Photo by Macario Montecillo
The course is on its third offering since 2007. It was organized by the Irrigated Rice Research Consortium and supported with funding from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation through the Closing Rice Yield Gaps in Asia with Reduced Environmental Footprint (CORIGAP) Project.

The course was co-convened by Grant Singleton, rodent management expert and CORIGAP coordinator, and David Johnson, weed management expert and head of IRRI’s Crop and Environmental Sciences Division. Charles Krebs, a world-renowned ecologist and professor, joined IRRI scientists as a resource speaker.

Completing the team of IRRI resource speakers were Finbarr Horgan (insect ecology and management), Bhagirath Chauhan (weed ecology and weed science), Alexander Stuart (ecology and management of insects, rodents, and snails), Rica Flor (cultural and social impact assessment), Trina Mendoza (science communication), and Richard Smedley (bird ecology).

By Trina Leah Mendoza

No comments:

Post a Comment