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Posted Thu Mar 4 2010: from
Farmers and pesticide blamed in Thai rice pest invasion
Thai farmers keen to exploit high rice prices have made an outbreak of a devastating pest worse by overplanting and using too much pesticide, according to ecologists. An outbreak of brown planthoppers has destroyed 368,000 hectares -- about four per cent of Thailand's rice paddies -- since August last year. The pests have periodically plagued Asian rice farming for decades, eating their way through rice crops and spreading viral diseases that can stunt growth and prevent rice grain formation.... To ensure good yields, farmers overuse fertilisers -- thought to increase the planthopper's fertility -- and pesticides such as synthetic pyrethroids, which have no effect on planthoppers but kill many of their natural enemies such as spiders. Golsalvitra said the problem remains unabated despite state efforts to control the situation and the pest is migrating south to the Central Plains -- the country's rice bowl, which is preparing for the next rice season in May.... He said the outbreaks are preventable and that the best way to deal with them is to restore biodiversity rather than destroy it.
[Read more stories about: unintended consequences, pesticide runoff, ecosystem interrelationships]

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'Doc Michael says:
We should have used cane toads!*
Cane Toads are voracious, huge, poisonously-skinned toads that were brought from South America to other places for pest control, originally for sugar cane -- but the toads quickly became invasive species, with no predators, eating up small mammals, other amphibians, reptiles, as well as birds. Obscure reference explained.

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