To get a good harvest, farmers have to exercise high standards of crop management and adopt sustainable farming practices that minimize crop pests and diseases and maintain soil fertility. It is important to plan ahead and get equipped with the right information.
This will prevent and tackle challenges associated with weeds, soil nutrient degradation and pests and diseases; sustainable practices that can be used to manage your crops.
Pests and diseases are responsible for between 20 to 80 per cent of crop losses but sustainable pest and disease management practices can minimize their negative health and environmental effects.
Below are some useful tips for farmers:
1. You should monitor and examine your crops closely to accurately diagnose and understand the nature and source of pest and disease problems in your farm.
2. Physical control measures are the first options to consider. They include simple handpicking, erecting insect barriers, using traps, tillage, mulching, soil solarization and adopting protective structures such as shade net houses and greenhouses.
3. Beneficial insects (called natural enemies) like wasps, ladybirds, spiders and hoverfly larvae which feed on plant eating pests like aphids and caterpillars, eliminate or reduce pests. In this way, they provide adequate pest control with minimal environmental impact. You should therefore conserve and manage habitats for natural enemies of the target pests to thrive by, for example, planting hedges and windbreaks, avoiding use of broad spectrum pesticides and growing flowering plants that provide food for beneficial insects.