Trap Crops always provide an effective safety cover to main crop against all kinds of insect pest attacks.
By *Dr. Rashid A. Khan, **Dr. Fahad Rasheed
It is a reality that old inventions serve as base for further discoveries in the respective fields. But unfortunately, in our universities and research institutions such a basic principle is ignored sometime. Decades ago when pesticides were not introduced, farmer were mostly using “Trap Crops Technique” to save their main crop against insect pest damage. For this purpose, they were cultivating few lines of some more palatable crop around their main crop to create a centre of attention for the insect pests. For example they were cultivating “Brassica” around wheat fields, “Sesame” around cotton fields and “Sunkukra or Ladyfinger” around sugarcane fields etc. Ultimately being more palatable food, the insects were attracted to feed on those trap-crops and their main crops were not damaged. In the modern age, our extension workers and farmers hardly know about the use of this technology. Even the farmers don’t practice this technique to avoid the insect pests attacking their crops.
As an Entomologist, in my opinion this “Trap Crop Technique” can still be used with more effective results and can substantially reduce pesticide use on crops. For example if we cultivate trap crop in lines around the main crops, being more palatable food, these trap-crop rows will attract all the insect pests to feed on. Now, instead of applying pesticide on the whole crop field one can periodically spray the trap-crop rows to kill the attracted/collected insect pests. This practice will not only reduce the amount of pesticides being used in agriculture fields but will also save their main crops against direct pesticide pollution.
Initially, being instantly result orienting and facile in application, the use of chemical pesticides became very popular in many agriculture communities of the world. However, the progressive countries soon realized about their harmful effects and either they stopped their use or adopted the more safe and selective pesticides for insect control. Contrarily in under-developed countries, these deadly pesticides are still in use and creating many problems. The uninterrupted use of these chemical pesticides has been reported to be damaging for the soil fauna and predacious fauna in the agriculture lands. In case of careless handling, even lives of the local people are said to be at stake therefore, their rational use in combination with others pest control measures/management practices has been advised.
Use of Trap Crops is natural and a safe method of avoiding crop losses through insect pests. If properly re-implemented, this old insect pest control strategy can help in minimizing pesticide use and will ultimately reduce direct pesticide pollution of the agriculture ecosystem. As an after affect, this technology will help in reviving soil fauna, reinforcing biological pest management, improving crop yields and enhancing net return from agriculture resources in the country.
*Prof./Subject Expert, **Associate Professor
Department of Forestry & Range Mgt. the University of Agriculture, Faisalabad.