Participants from Asian countries attend training on ecological management of rice pests

 Rona Niña Mae Rojas-Azucena (IRRI)   |  
Participants were taught techniques on how and where to set up rodent traps along the grassy area of the lowland rice plots at IRRI, Los Baños. 
Los Baños, Laguna — A two-week training course on the ecological management of rodents, insects, and weeds in agro-ecosystems is being held at IRRI headquarters on 2-13 November.
Thirty participants from the Philippines, Myanmar, Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Vietnam attended the training to gain and apply their knowledge of the ecology of rice pests for better rice farm management at a landscape level. They were trained in using decision tools to analyze pest problems and determine processes and factors that influence farmers’ decisions;  applying field protocols for monitoring insects, rodent and weeds; simple computer models; and the principles for effective transfer of knowledge to  extension officers, policymakers, and farmers.
IRRI scientists Grant Singleton (rodent ecology), Virender Kumar (weed management), David Johnson (weed ecology), Alex Stuart (rodent ecology), and Buyung Hadi (insect ecology) provided their expertise as resource persons.  They were joined by Professor Emeritus Charles Krebs, population ecologist from the University of British Columbia, Canada.
“A strong understanding of the population ecology of insect, rodent, and weed pests, and the behavior of rodents and insects is important to effectively manage them,” explains Dr. Singleton, coordinator of the Closing Rice Yield Gaps with Reduced Environmental Footprint (CORIGAP) project.
The first week’s activities included hands-on training on spooling and radio-tracking of rodents and rat-trapping in various outdoor settings at the IRRI experiment station—lowland rice fields, near screenhouses, grassy plots, and at the base of long coconut trees. The students caught 30 rodent pests from just 95 traps. They were then taught how to take key body measurements and examine in detail the breeding condition of the female rodents.
CORIGAP, funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, organized the training activity with the IRRI Training Center.
For more information on courses offered by the Training Center, visit www.training.irri.org or contact IRRITraining@irri.org.