Agriculture is still the means of livelihood for a vast section of human population all over the world. In spite of the tremendous progress that has been made in this sector, it continues to be riddled with problems pertaining to pests. Pests are the nemesis of the agricultural sector. Every year millions of tons of crops are being damaged owing to pest damage. Currently 10-16% of global crop production is lost to pests. Crop pests include fungi, bacteria, viruses, insects, nematodes, viroids and oomycetes. The diversity of crop pests continues to expand and new strains are continually evolving. Losses of major crops to fungi, and fungi-like microorganisms, amount to enough to feed nearly nine percent of today’s global population.
Insects are responsible for two major kinds of damage to growing crops. First is direct injury done to the plant by the feeding insect, which eats leaves or burrows in stems, fruit, or roots. There are hundreds of pest species of this type, both in larvae and adults, among orthopterans, homopterans, heteropterans, coleopterans, lepidopterans, and dipterans. The second type is indirect damage in which the insect itself does little or no harm but transmits a bacterial, viral, or fungal infection into a crop. Examples include the viral diseases of sugar beets and potatoes, carried from plant to plant by aphids.
Crops and agricultural produce are susceptible to damage by insects and pests at each stage from pre-harvest to post harvest level. Post harvest damage recorded in Asia alone is approximately 6%. Every year millions of dollars worth food grains are lost to pests! Furthermore according to survey by World Food Program there are 842 million undernourished people in the world today. That means one in eight people do not get enough food to be healthy and lead an active life. In such circumstances, such blatant wastage of food should be avoided at all costs. This is uninvited and unwanted charity!
In our efforts to stem the damage to agricultural produce owing to pests, we have taken refuge in the use of toxic pesticides. Although this has helped stem the damage to a considerable extent, they are not always effective. What they do simultaneously is irrevocable damage to our natural environment, having a negative effect on all its components. Toxic pesticides used rampantly in the agricultural sector worldwide contain extremely toxic potential carcinogens which are harmful to humans as well as to beneficial insect species like bees. Neonicotinoid which is principal components of numerous popular pesticides has been proved to be the sole cause of the Colony Collapse Disorder syndrome! It’s estimated that over the past five years, some 30 percent of bees in the United States have either disappeared or failed to survive to pollinate blossoms in the spring. That’s about 50% more than the rate expected. The problem is direr in some other countries. In Spain, recent data indicate a loss close to 80% of beehives.
The use of these toxic pesticides needs to be discouraged for the sake of the greater good. But at the same time crops need to be protected from the onslaught of vicious pests.
The use of agricultural films as a means to safeguard crops from pests has been explored since the past some years. Agricultural films are basically low weight LDPE or PE plastic films. Mulches, silage bags are just varied forms of a basic agricultural film. According to a new market report published by Transparency Market Research “Agricultural Films (LDPE, LLDPE, HDPE, EVA/EBA, Reclaims and Others) Market for Greenhouse, Mulching and Silage Applications Size, Share, Growth, Trends and Forecast, 2013 – 2019,” the global agricultural film market was valued at USD 5.87 billion in 2012 and is expected to reach USD 9.66 billion by 2019, growing at a CAGR of 7.6% from 2013 to 2019. In terms of volume, the global demand was 4,410.3 kilo tons in 2012 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 5.7% from 2013 to 2019.” Thus we can see that agricultural film usage is growing at a fast rate.
Agricultural films are being used increasingly in a bid to preserve and nurture plant health by preventing water loss, UV stabilization to cool soil and prevent insect attack, etc. But after using agricultural film too, the plants can still be susceptible to pests. This is so as these agricultural films are usually made of plastics like Polyethylene (PE), LDPE, etc; which can be easily damaged or chewed through by rodents and other pests. This would effectively leave the plants vulnerable to further attack by pests. Agricultural films by themselves are not insect and pest resistant. The agricultural film will be useful to the plant only if it could prevent pests from attacking it.
Thus there is a need for addition of some kind of additive in the agricultural film so as to make it effective against insects and pests. Termirepel™ a product by C Tech Corporation is a non-toxic, non-hazardous termite and insect aversive. It is available in the form of a polymer compatible masterbatch and thus can be incorporated in the agricultural film during the manufacturing process itself. It is an inert compound and highly stable at high extrusion temperatures. Also it is stable within the polymer matrix and will not leach out in the environment. It is developed keeping the safety of the environment in mind and is therefore eco-friendly. Termirepel™ works on the mechanism of repellence whereby it acts on different levels ensuring that the target species is repelled away from the application. It does not kill and is therefore not life-threatening to the target as well as non-target species.
Termirepel™ is the right choice in our quest for alternative methods to protect crops from pest and in turn save agriculture!