As the global human population is predicted to rise up to 9.6 billion by 2050 (Cohen, 2003), there is even more pressure for more efficient agricultural production.
Until recently, crop pests had usually been managed using synthetic chemical pesticides, but due to concerns over their safety, broad spectrum efficacy, the development of pesticide resistance, and their effect on the environment and non-target species, many chemical pesticides are now being withdrawn from sale.
With no suitable replacements to synthetic pesticides, an urgent requirement for new and different ways to improve the management of insect pests has been revealed. So what are the alternatives to synthetic pesticides?
- Biological control (e.g. use of natural enemies)
- Cultural control (e.g. eradication of alternative hosts)
- Polyculture (e.g. intercropping, companion planting, agroforestry)
These alternatives are very exciting to me and I am very passionate about this area of research. During my time at university I have carried out two research projects in this area:
- Final year undergraduate project: The thermal biology of microbial control agents of insect pests.
- MSc research project: The effect of methyl jasmonate seed treatments on aphid control in Brussels sprout and lettuce.
Details on these projects can be found on their respective pages in my portfolio.