Newswise — A recent study from the Chinese MARA-CABI Joint Laboratory for Biosafety suggests that increased awareness of biopesticide options, their efficacy, and field application processes could be beneficial in addressing locust outbreaks in China.

The researchers recommend further studies that focus on modeling the expected impact and cost-effectiveness of chemical pesticides versus biopesticides, to promote environmentally-friendly biopesticide use and expand the evidence base in this area. The findings are outlined in the journal Sustainability.

Locusts are highly destructive pests that have caused significant financial losses and ecological damage worldwide. In China, locust outbreaks have a long history and are considered one of the country's biggest natural disasters, alongside floods and droughts.

Emerging technologies such as drones, GPS tracking, GIS mapping, and satellite data imagery have shown successes in locust control efforts. However, the primary method of control for locusts in China and other countries remains the use of chemical pesticides, despite their negative impacts on the environment.

Biopesticides have lower uptake due to inconsistent field results, shorter product life, higher costs, and limited effectiveness on a smaller range of pests compared to other products. However, there is increasing evidence of the benefits of biopesticides, including for locust control. China has an integrated national locust response protocol involving multiple institutions from different levels of government, according to Dr. Hongmei Li, the lead author of the study and a Senior Scientist at CABI's center in China.

The locust response protocol in China involves multiple agencies working closely together to prevent and manage locust outbreaks. Recent outbreaks have been combated successfully due to dedicated government funding, decisive administrative and technical actions, and empowerment of local government administration. County-level administrations act as "first responders" with financial and technical capabilities to respond to locust invasions in their respective jurisdictions, as highlighted by Dr. Hongmei Li, the lead author of the study.

Dr. Mariam Kadzamira, a co-author of the study and Senior Researcher in Agribusiness at CABI's head office in Wallingford, UK, stated that the research highlights inadequate information about the availability of biopesticides in local markets, negative perceptions about their efficacy among decision-makers, concerns about costs, and limited knowledge of application techniques as barriers to their use for locust control.

The researchers emphasize the need for relevant authorities to enhance stakeholder awareness about the availability, efficacy, and field application processes of biopesticides. They also stress the importance of evidence-based local exemplars and case studies, including comparisons of long-term outcomes between biopesticides and chemical pesticides on locust populations, to promote increased use of biopesticides in locust control efforts.

The researchers recommend that information packages should be made available to decision-makers on an ongoing basis, not just during locust outbreaks, as quick and decisive actions are necessary for successful pest control. They also suggest that research should focus on metrics-based process mapping, including analyzing the time lag between strategic actions during a locust outbreak, to improve efficiency across administrative structures.

Dr. Mariam Kadzamira highlighted that such process mapping would facilitate a better understanding of workflows and contribute to improving the efficiency of different actors during a locust emergency.

The research was based on Yunnan Province as a case study, considering it was severely affected by the 2020 locust invasion and efforts to control the locusts were relatively successful. The findings from this study could inform future pest management strategies not only for China but also for other countries facing similar challenges.

Full paper reference

Li, H.; Kadzamira, M.A.T.J.; Ogunmodede, A.; Finch, E.; Zhu, J.; Romney, D.; Luke, B. Lessons Learned and Challenges of Biopesticide Usage for Locust Management—The Case of China. Sustainability 2023, 15, 6193.

The paper can be read open access here:


Journal Link: Sustainability