How Technology, Plant Species Could Be Used To Combat Pests – AAUA Don, Olotuah

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In a bid to address pest-related challenges and achieve food sufficiency, Olanrewaju Olotuah, a distinguished professor of Crop/Pest Management at Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba Akoko, Ondo State, has advocated adoption of technology and the cultivation of plant species with natural defense mechanisms.

Professor Olotuah gave these recommendations during the 23rd Inaugural Lecture of the University, titled “Biodiversity and Resilience: A Shield Against Pests,” held on Tuesday, April 30, 2024.

Professor Olotuah emphasised the significance of leveraging technology, such as drones, sensors, and artificial intelligence, in revolutionizing pest management practices. He highlighted the potential of these innovations to minimize the use of chemical pesticides, reduce environmental impacts, and enhance crop yields and quality.

He underscored the importance of utilizing plant species with natural defense mechanisms to mitigate pest infestations, highlighting various strategies, including companion planting, cultivation of pest-resistant varieties, and integration of cover crops, as effective means of reducing reliance on chemical pesticides.

The Inaugural Lecturer emphasised the evolving nature of pest management, driven by advancements in science, technology, and innovation. He cautioned against the drawbacks associated with synthetic insecticides and stressed the need for sustainable and environmentally friendly pest management solutions.

According to the Inaugural Lecturer, The initial primary approach had centred on the use of synthetic insecticides but these were observed to be associated with several problems. Consequently, synthetic insecticides are generally perceived not to be cost-effective and environmentally friendly. The world of pest management is constantly evolving, driven by advances in science, technology, and innovation, as well as shifting ecological, social, and economic dynamics.

“One of the most exciting possibilities on the horizon is the potential for technological innovation to revolutionize pest management practices. From the development of novel biopesticides and genetically engineered crops to the use of drones, sensors, and artificial intelligence for precision pest monitoring and control, the possibilities for innovation are virtually limitless. By harnessing the power of technology, we can develop more sustainable, efficient, and environmentally friendly pest management strategies that minimize the use of chemical pesticides, reduce environmental impacts, and enhance crop yields and quality.

Another significant strategy involves utilizing certain plant species that possess natural defense mechanisms against pests, thereby reducing the reliance on chemical pesticides. One key aspect is the concept of companion planting, where specific plants are strategically placed alongside crops to repel or attract pests. For example, planting aromatic herbs like basil or marigolds alongside vegetables can deter pests due to their strong scents, serving as a natural pest control measure.”

Prof. Olotuah further highlighted the pivotal role of conserving plant diversity in bolstering resilience against pest infestations. He called for measures such as establishing protected areas, maintaining seed banks, and promoting education and advocacy to preserve plant biodiversity.

The don also emphasised the importance of addressing the social and economic dimensions of pest management, advocating inclusive decision-making processes and the exploration of plant extract formulations for medicinal, therapeutic, and cosmetic use.

The Vice Chancellor of Adekunle Ajasin University, Prof. Olugbenga Ige, commended Professor Olotuah for his significant contributions to academia and society. He praised the lecturer’s dedication to advancing knowledge in the field of Crop/Pest Management and lauded the importance of inaugural lectures in disseminating valuable research findings and recommendations.

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