Kukiat Soitong, Rice Department, Bangkhen, Bangkok, Thailand,
Somsak Thongdeethae, Rice Research Center, Chainat, Thailand and
K.L. Heong, International Rice Research Institute, Los Baños, Philippines
As the rice brown planthopper (BPH) continues to ravage rice crops in Central Thailand, the Rice Department has developed an approach towards sustainable management of the pest. The approach is based on ecological engineering principles coupled with selected techniques. The sustainable planthopper management initiative was launched on 25 March 2011 in Chainat Rice Research Center by the Agricultural Minister’s advisor, Dr Yukhon Limlamthong. Chainat Province’s vice governor, Ms Phanee Ghamkham in her welcome remarks expressed the province’s commitment to up scale the practices throughout the province. The Initiative, also known as the Chainat Model, is based on ecological engineering experiments carried in the Chainat Rice Research Center in the last 2 seasons. Ecological engineering fields had significantly higher biodiversity of parasitoids and predators. Besides encouraging farmers to increase flora biodiversity by growing nectar rich flowers in the bunds, reducing insecticide use in the first 40 days after sowing and cropping intensity, the Chainat Model also includes the use of Beauveria extracts when necessary and installing giant light traps with a succession fans. Beauveria is a genus of asexually-reproducing fungi that are typically insect pathogens. The giant light trap could catch 10 kg of BPH in 2 hours.
Seven hundred (700) farmers attended the launching ceremony which was accompanied by exhibitions various BPH management methods and demonstrations followed by a quiz show. Songs composed and sang by a famous classical singer, Ms Khonjit Sripachan, about the virtues of ecological engineering, like the return of the bees and butterflies, was a big attraction.
Thousands of pamphlets, posters and CDs on ecological engineering have been mass produced to be distributed to farmers in Chainat province in the coming weeks. The Thai government has also announced plans to decrease rice cropping intensity from 3 to 2 in support for more sustainable ways to manage BPH problems. Businessweek.