Inside the software used to curb South African locust swarms

Concerns about pesticide use

Although farmers in South Africa may now have the tools to find bugs, conservationists are concerned about how the insects are being destroyed in that country. Chemical pesticides, the ongoing mechanism for this, contrast South Africa with the environmentally sensitive pest control methods used in other African nations that currently use biopesticides.

During the locust infestation in the Eastern Cape earlier this year, the national government supplied two helicopters to AgriEC to treat with chemical pesticides, specifically Sumi-Alpha and Deltamethrin, and also provided 16 “breeders” (portable units operated by teams of workers). back to spray insects).

“We had two situations where people used smoke instead, but it honestly didn’t help much, so the main thing [used] it was poison,” Pretorius said, noting that in some cases fire and smoke help repel swarms of locusts, even as the insects fly to another area.

In South Africa, the spraying of toxic pesticides on fruit or vegetables for human consumption is prohibited, so farmers often use helicopter rotors to shrink down the planes to entangle them. open ground

One hope is that EarthRanger technology will allow farmers to quickly track hoppers and spray when “it’s not as active,” Pretorius said, requiring less pesticide.

AgriEC believes that the chemical pesticide, after spraying, only contaminates the soil for two weeks. However, new research released in May 2022 recommends against chemical pesticides in favor of non-toxic biopesticides, such as fungi. Metarhysis bitter to kill grasshoppers.

Academics led by Samuel Kamga of the University of Yaounde in Cameroon found that when early warning software predicts a slide invasion, experts can estimate the optimal time when the temperature and humidity are right, so applied M. acridum the fungus will thrive. Ideally, for prevention, a fungal-based biopesticide should be sprayed over potentially affected areas before the rush arrives.

Greenpeace Africa Campaign Manager Claire Nasike in Kenya also supports its use M. acridum-based biopesticides for edge control. According to its chemical properties, some of the pesticides used today last much longer than two weeks in the soil, perpetuating and damaging the microorganisms that make the soil fertile for crops.

He noted that toxic-chemical pesticides can travel long distances through surface runoff and then contaminate the water sources they drain into. “Some can leach into underground sources, eventually contaminating them and reducing available fresh water. Some, such as the frequently used deltamethrin, have the ability to harm bees (which are essential in food production) and fish.”

M. acridum, on the other hand, only kills grasshoppers and does not pollute the environment. “It can be used to kill swarms of locusts,” says Nasik. “This method has been proven to work in countries like Tanzania and Madagascar, if it is applied at the right time. toxic [chemical] pesticide use should not be a knee-jerk reaction to lobster problems that can be solved with biopesticides and proper planning”.

In South Africa, farmers are eagerly awaiting September to see how their weevil warning system is performing and whether the insects can be effectively controlled.

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