Pest Impact Assessment

The mere occurrence of an insect species in association with a crop or a farm animal does not necessarily mean that the species is a pest of that crop or animal. To be a pest it must cause economic losses. The assessment of economic losses from pests is the subject of studies conducted under conditions that match as closely as possible the conditions under which the crop is grown commercially or the animals are raised. Much of the methodology used in crop loss assessment has been established under the sponsorship of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations as a means of prioritizing budget allocations and research efforts. Key data for these studies relate to the determination of the yield potential of a crop. The genetic makeup of a crop variety determines its maximum yield in the absence of adverse environmental factors. This is known as the attainable yield. To determine the attainable yield, the crop is grown under nearly ideal conditions; the actual yield is what occurs when the crop is grown under normal farming conditions. The difference between attainable and actual yields is a measure of crop loss (Fig. 3).

To assess crop losses and attribute the losses to a specific cause (e.g., the attack of a pest) requires setting up experiments to isolate the effect of the pest from all other constraints. Methodologies vary with pest category—whether the pests are insects, vertebrates, plant pathogens, or weeds, for example. The quantitative relationship between crop losses and pest population levels is the basis for computing the economic injury level for the pest. The economic injury level is a fundamental concept in IPM.

i Yield type potential attainable

Defining factors: CO2

radiation temperature crop genetics -crop physiology -crop phenology -canopy architecture

Limiting factors: water nutrients

Yield-increasing measures

-nitrogen

-phosphorus

-potassium actual.

Yield-protecting measures

Reducing factors: insect pests vertebrates

™ ~ ^ pathogens weeds pollutants

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