Ecological Approaches: Entomological diversity including pollinators
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While pest organisms (including insect pests, diseases, weeds) etc. have long been the focus of agronomic research, singular approaches to their control have often result in escalating costs and pest resurgences. Agroecological approaches, in contrast, seek to restructure and manage agricultural systems so that an array of biological interactions are in place and serve to prevent pest damage. These interactions go beyond simple biological control, to include such measures as (1) cultural practices- often based on traditional knowledge – including polycropping, and planting of diverse genetic mixtures, (2) building healthy soils to grow plants that can fend off attacks and (3) enhancing or introducing natural enemies and (4) using insects’ own chemical signals to alter their behavior. A further ecological synergy, only recently well understood, is that by increasing diversity on a farm, and, reducing pesticides, the abundance of pollinating insects can be increased, resulting to better yields of pollinator-dependent crops. We highlight ways in which the complex management of these biological interactions has shown inherent strengths, in the context of Kenya and Eastern Africa.