Successfully combating pests on rice fields entails a combination of remedies–expert

Published July 2, 2021, 1:12 PM

by Betheena Unite

The effective management of pests on rice fields can’t be achieved via a single method, but rather a combination of several practices, an expert from the Department of Agriculture-Philippine Rice Research Institute (DA-PhilRice) said.

This, as brown planthoppers recently infested 600 hectares (ha) of rice farms in Bulacan.

(Photo courtesy of the Department of Agriculture)

“Many farmers look for that one solution to end pest problems in their rice fields, but there is none. We need to combine several practices in managing pests in the fields,” Leonardo V. Marquez, pest management expert, said.

Marquez said that brown planthoppers are one of the most common rice pests along with rice blackbug, rice bug, stem borer, and green leafhopper. These pests spread tungro, bacterial blight, rice blast, and sheath blight on the field.

He explained that it is possible to effectively manage pests if farmers use high-quality seeds and pest-resistant variety. This is on top of practicing synchronous planting and avoiding excessive fertilizer application.

Some brown planthoppers-resistant varieties are PSB Rc2, 10, NSIC Rc 212, Rc 222, Rc 224, Rc 226, Rc 298, and Rc 300. These varieties are also resistant to other pests such as green leafhopper, bacterial leaf blight, and stem borer.

He said that farmers should also let the soil “rest” in what is called a fallow period, remove weeds from dikes where pests may thrive, plow and dry soil after harvest, and monitor the rice field regularly.

He added that it is important to avoid unnecessary use of pesticides to conserve beneficial organisms such as ground beetle, lady beetle, damselfly, and dragonfly. These organisms prey on brown planthoppers, green leafhoppers, and other pests.

“If these practices are observed, yield loss due to pests will be minimized, production cost will be reduced, and high grain quality will be achieved,” Marquez said.