Patrick Worm’s sets his sights on the armyworm, and how to cope with it. Turns, out, providing patches of natural and semi-natural habitats around farms can attract some of the many critters that are the armyworm’s natural predator. Trees are a handy technique to better manage crop and, bonus, not poison people the water or the soil. Patrick Worm’s is the Senior Science Policy Advisor of World Agroforestry (ICRAF) and the President of the European Agroforestry Federation.
By Patrick Worms
You know, pesticides? They’re supposed to be essential to feeding the world?
Well, no. In the case of fall armyworm (a serious scourge for poor farmers), for example, they merely poison people, make money for poison peddlers – and kill all the beasties that love to munch on the worm. And the worm, you ask? It’s nice and snug, safe and sound, inside the top whorl of its host plant.
If instead of thinking that poisoning people, soils and water supplies to make your living is a great idea, and you actually want to help, you’ll notice that “over 150 parasitoid species and other natural predators — including spiders, beetles, ants, social wasps, insectivorous birds and bats — are known to attack fall armyworm. These natural enemies provide effective control of the pest in many situations. Patches of natural and semi-natural habitats around farms attract these diverse natural enemies that feed on fall armyworm at different stages of their life cycles. The application of highly toxic pesticides damages this natural pest-control service.”
We don’t get paid billions to poison the world and have to beg money from donors to help. But our help actually works. We help farmers plant multi-purpose trees around their fields. These don’t just attract those predators, but they also provide all sorts of other services and products.
The farmers using this solution are not poisoned, don’t lose their crops, have extra foods and products to sell, and are smiling a satisfied smile as they relax in the evening watching the sunset, a cold beer in their hand.
Agroforestry? It’s the bee’s knees.