With the help of the bees, integrated pest control can still keep its promises
Farmers have to make a variety of decisions in order for their farms to be economically and environmentally sustainable. To do this over successive growing seasons, pest populations must be kept below threshold levels to avoid significant yield losses (1). Control programs to prevent these pest losses may include crop rotation, resistant crops, biological controls, and insecticides against pests, which can also kill natural enemies and pollinators (2, 3). In crops that require pollination, like most fruits and vegetables, it is important to conserve the insects that flowers visit, including bees, hoverflies, and beetles, as they transport pollen and increase yields (4th, 5). However, these insects are at risk from exposure to pesticides, with particular concern being expressed in recent years about field crop systems where seeds treated with neonicotinoid insecticides are widespread (6th). For almost all maize seeds treated with pesticides, the question arises whether the integrated pest management (IPM) (IPM) approaches developed in the 1950s (7th) remain relevant to modern agriculture and the current challenges of reconciling pest control and pollinator protection. At PNAS, Pecenka et al. (8th). This is a meaningful Integrated Pest and Pollinator Management (IPPM) case study that has been suggested as a more holistic way to account for economically important insects in bee-pollinated crops (9, 10).
Is IPM still relevant?
Since the dawn of agriculture, pests have robbed crop yields and continue to limit food and fiber production (11th). Synthetic insecticides were developed in the 1950s to prevent this damage, but negative effects on the environment and human toxicity resulted in increased regulation …