1.This tutorial series provides an historical overview of plant protection, from subsistence agriculture through to modern plant protection practices.
2.We examine three case studies in Part 1, illustrating changes that took place in subsistence agriculture (rice and maize-cowpea intercropping) and subsequently in a commercial cropping system (sugar beet), in response to decisions aimed at reducing intensive labor practices.
3.These case studies illustrate that pest* problems, and how we deal with them, involve interactions between “Natural systems” and “Human use systems”. In this context, a major role played by chemical pesticides has been to uncouple decisions made on crop production from decisions made on plant protection.
[*The term “pest” is used here to cover insect pests, fungal diseases, weeds, nematodes, and other organisms causing crop damage and yield and/or quality loss].
4.We then examine current, more complex plant protection systems in Part 2, involving dynamic interactions between pest populations, beneficial organisms, technological developments, and decisions made by farmers, chemical manufacturers, pesticide distributors, food retailers, consumers, and policy and regulatory authorities.
5.While pesticides can play an important role in plant protection, they can also cause negative impacts. We then consider how Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategies, government regulation, training, quarantine measures and the development of alternative control methods can reduce the negative impacts of pesticides.
6. Finally, we discuss the importance of involving key stakeholders (farmers, advisors, scientists, government agencies, etc.) in workshops and other forums. The aim is to facilitate a better understanding of the relevant “natural-human use” systems that need to be considered when designing smarter and more collaborative and resilient approaches to plant protection in the future.