Nguyen Huu Huan and Ho Van Chien
Vice Director General, Plant Protection Department, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Director, Southern Regional Plant Protection Center, Long Dinh, Tien Giang, Vietnam
Ecological engineering was first introduced to Vietnam by IRRI and the first two communities to experiment with this idea were Cai Be and Cai Lay districts in Tien Giang province (Read: EE experiment). The main idea is to provide resources such as nectar for natural enemies and reduce unnecessary insecticide use in the early season to conserve ecosystem services. Farmers were trained on ecological engineering concepts, methods to increase floral biodiversity and methods to sample parasitoids. This functional group is highly important in providing “pest invasion resistance” services but is also highly susceptible to insecticides in the early season.
The Department of Agriculture in An Giang province has recently integrated ecological engineering into their “5 reductions, 1 must do” program to enhance natural biological control. The “5 reductions, 1 must do” program started in 2008 as an extension of the highly successful “Three Reductions, Three Gains” program that was adopted by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) (Read: 3R media campaign). The Three Reductions program had helped farmers reduce their insecticide use by 13 to 33%, seed and nitrogen rates by 7% and 10%, respectively, and improved their profits by about US$ 58 and US35 per ha in winter spring and summer autumn seasons, respectively (Read: Farmers’ evaluation). The campaign was awarded the Golden Rice and the Dubai Best Practice awards. Water saving and reducing post harvest losses were added into the 3 reductions program.
With ecological engineering, farmers would have more confidence in natural control and protection from brown planthopper (BPH) attacks and would stop spraying for leaf damages by leaf folders. In the pilot site in Chau Thanh district 15 farmers operating in an area of 30 ha who were adopting the “5 reductions and 1 must do” were trained in ecological concepts. They started in the winter spring crop of 2010 and were repeating it in the second crop- autumn-summer crop of 2010. One farmer, Bui Van Hien, used to apply insecticide 4 to 5 times a season but in the last season he had only applied once. Five types of common flowers were planted and in rice fields with wild flowers, more natural enemies were observed. Data collected is being analyzed in detail.
More details in Angiang News.