Zhu Zeng-Rong and Zhou Wen-Wu, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China
May 22 is International Day for Biological Diversity (IDB) proclaimed by the United Nations in December 2000 to increase understanding and awareness of biodiversity issues. Zhejiang University together with IRRI, China National Agricultural Technical Extension and Service Center (NATESC), Zhejiang Academy of Agricultural Sciences (ZAAS) and the Sanmen county government launched China’s ecological engineering initiative to mark IBD 2012. The event is an important milestone for sustainable pest management to be initiated in China. The aim of ecological engineering is to build, restore and conserve biodiversity to increase ecosystem services for agriculture. Ecological engineering techniques were first evaluated by Zhejiang scientists in Jin Hua. After several seasons of experimentation, it became clear that ecological engineering would increase natural enemy populations and even frogs while yields remained relatively the same. The main savings were from insecticide use that was reduced from 5 to 1 spray a season.
Sanmen county has been using ecological engineering in Hejia village for 5 years and found that pest attacks were lower and yields were still around 8 to 10 tons/ha when fields were sprayed less. County officials are now preparing to implement ecological engineering in more areas. Ecological engineering techniques fit into the Ministry of Agriculture’s Green Plant Protection initiative. In his speech at the launch, Professor Chen Sheng-Dou, Director-General of the National Agro-Technical Extension and Service Center (NATESC), acknowledged that insecticide misuse is a problem that the Ministry of Agriculture will pay more attention to in the next coming years. Regulations are now being reformulated to improve the situation. Mr. Ye Xin-Cai, Deputy Director General of Department of Agriculture of Zhejiang Province, recognized EE efforts in the province and will support the scaling-up of EE through its Bureau of Plant Protection and Quarantine. The vice mayor of Sanmen County Mr. Chen Cai-Ming, the proud host of the event, expressed his thanks for the technical support from Zhejiang University, IRRI, Charles Sturt University and Visayas State University and announced that the County will continue to provide support to upscale ecological engineering.
Professor Geoff Gurr of Charles University spoke on the need to look at the big picture and the prospects of ecological engineering in rice pest management is potentially very high. Dr K.L. Heong of IRRI emphasized the importance of conserving ecosystem services, particularly those related to egg mortality as this function is performed by only a few specialists that are extremely susceptible to insecticides. Dr Escalada of Visayas State University stressed the importance of simplifying ecological engineering into motivational messages that can be communicated to the millions of farmers. Dr. Zhong-Xian Lv of ZAAS described the successful field experiments and demonstration of ecological engineering in Jinhua while Dr. Zeng-Rong Zhu, the organizer of Launching Day and the Symposium, discussed the need to transform from chemical-based to ecological-based approaches and the significant role of natural enemies that chemical agriculture had failed to consider.