, Volume 35, Issue 3, pp 337–349

Managing rice pests with less chemicals


  • Heong K. L. 
    • International Rice Research Institute
  • Teng P. S. 
    • International Rice Research Institute
  • Moody K. 
    • International Rice Research Institute

DOI: 10.1007/BF00989142

Cite this article as:
Heong, K.L., Teng, P.S. & Moody, K. GeoJournal (1995) 35: 337. doi:10.1007/BF00989142


Losses caused by pests remain an important constraint to achieving high rice yields. Potentials of protecting these losses have stimulated innovations in pesticide development. Today the rice pesticide market is valued at US $ 3.0 billion per year. With reducing land available for rice production and increasing demand for food production, attention is turning towards intensification through higher fertilizer inputs and cropping. Such intensifications may in turn increase pest intensities and demand for more pesticides.

A large proportion of insecticide sprays administered by rice farmers in Asia is influenced by misperceptions and overestimations of damages. Most farmers apply their first sprays in the first 40 days after crop establishment to control leaf feeding insects. However, these pests do not occur in sufficiently high densities to cause yield loss. Instead, such early season sprays may contribute towards development of secondary pests, such as the brown planthopper. Strategies to reduce insecticide use need to focus on enhancing naturally occurring biological control and understanding farmers' decision making behavior.

Most fungicides used in rice are in the sub-tropical countries, like Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam. An important strategy towards reduction in fungicide use is through host plant resistance and gene deployment strategies. With biotechnology, tools may be used to characterize population structures in order to enhance these strategies. Cultural practices, such as rotations, cultivar mixtures, crop mosaics and planting times are being investigated.

As cost of labor increases, farmers are likely to resort to using herbicides. The best way to accomplish weed control is the simultanous application of a variety of practices. These will include cultural, mechanical and chemical methods. The potentials of using naturally occurring enemies, such as plant pathogens, and the use of allelopathy are also being explored.

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© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1995