About this Research Topic
Over the past decades, crop protection research, education and outreach have increasingly focused on pest management as a reactive approach. Though the financial and human resources invested for that purpose are enormous, pests continue to be an increasing problem of global proportions – and are of particular concern in large-scale, simplified and chemically-intensified agro-ecosystems. This curative pest control strategy (and particularly farmer’s over-reliance on synthetic pesticides) negatively impacts biodiversity, farmer and consumer health and farm profitability while directly contributing to global environmental change. Yet, first-hand experience of small farmers across the globe has shown that a preventative approach (e.g., crop and genetic diversification, tailored soil, water and fertility management, varietal resistance, conservation biological control, mechanical control and sanitation) effectively defuses crop-inhabitant herbivores and proves to be far more efficient, cost-effective and environmentally-sound than conventional pest management strategies. A paradigm shift is urgently required, can help stall or revert the biodiversity crisis and become a core component of initiatives that pursue far-reaching agricultural ‘redesign’ and nature-friendly farming as ‘building blocks’ of sustainable food systems.
In order to facilitate such transition, it is essential to fully understand what is holding back this paradigm shift: Is there a lack of effective integration of ecological theory and pest management? Is there insufficient interdisciplinary science to advance the field of agroecological pest management or a lagging cooperation between social and natural scientists? Is (on-farm) participatory research falling short of expectations or is there an enhanced need for initiatives that team up with farmers as equals and support mechanisms that protect their knowledge? How can agro-industrial businesses engage in and lend support to this broader dynamic? Could remote sensing, artificial intelligence and IT be game-changers, and create further momentum for ecologically-based pest management? What other kind of research is needed in order to further advance a prevention paradigm for pest management? Can we showcase successful examples?
In this Research Topic we intend to collate the state of the art of (conventional scientist-led, farmer-led, and participatory) research on this topic. We welcome contributions providing both empirical and theoretical perspectives -covering ecological, agronomic, social as well as interdisciplinary scientific disciplines- and drawing upon experiences from various agroecosystems around the globe.
Keywords: Pest prevention, Agroecological pest management, Conservation biological control, Agro-biodiversity, Agroecology, Pest control, Crop and genetic diversification, Tailored soil, Water and fertility management, Varietal resistance
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