Microscopic soil organisms could be an environmentally friendly way to control crop pests and diseases and even protect agriculture against the impacts of climate change, a leading researcher says.
Africa is battling an outbreak of trans-boundary pests and diseases like the invasive South America fall army worm (FAW), tomato leaf miner and the TR4 which have cost the agriculture sector millions of dollars in crop damage.
“Chemicals are a quick fix and a short-term solution to insect pest control and also kill the predators of the pests,” said Dr Christian Thierfelder. “Research from our labs at Auburn University has shown a great potential in microbes for helping fight pests- and we have done some research on the fall army worms that are pests in turf grass,” said Dr Esther Ngumbi, a post-doctoral researcher in the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology at the Auburn University in Alabama, United States.
The approach promotes the use of safer alternatives to pesticides like biocontrols and cultural practices. These include resistant cultivars to control insect pests and diseases, crop rotation and diversification at the plot and landscape, monitoring of insect pests using pheromone traps and seed treatment with beneficial soil rhizobacteria to reduce soil and foliar diseases.