The Importance of Pollination and Natural Pest Control to Agriculture
Extensive scientific studies revealed that different arthropod activities influenced pollination:
- The distance traveled by the arthropods to forage for food up to a distance of 10 kilometers.
- The period or season that they forage and store their food;
- The speed that different species of insects consume their stored food;
Initially, the farming sector went into large scale production of maize because it did not require pollination; but this did not provide the ultimate solution to what was ailing the commercial agricultural industries.
Cattle, to be of the best livestock breed, are ideally fed with alfalfa, forage legumes, and silage as the best sources of calcium and protein. The demand for good breeds of cattle stock could not be met because the supply of forage food was not enough. Studies showed that almost one-third of all cattle feeds made use of agricultural products that relied on pollination in order to have good crop results.
Seed dispersal needed enhancements; hence, most farms resorted to hand-pollination, since there were not enough insects foraging for food as inorganic fertilizers and pesticides affected their populations. Even their natural habitats were no longer available because other natural settings had been disrupted or converted to serve man’s purpose. Forests became denuded as trees were being cut down without any forethought, while most of the available land was filled with concrete edifices.
However, farmers came to realize the importance of pollination because manual pollination could cost them as much as additional 25% in labor costs. Based on agricultural statistics, an estimated annual cost of $11 million was being spent for hand pollination alone.
To remedy the situation, insects, mostly beetles, were imported and propagated in nest sites, which resulted to 20% increase in yield and savings of about $115 million in dispensing with hand-pollination.
Natural Pest Control
The roles of centipedes and millipedes as members of the land arthropods came into focus as studies were made on how plant diseases could be managed. Reports revealed that pathogenic fungi and bacteria that caused plant diseases, and even human illnesses, flourished because there was ecological imbalance between prey and predator.
There were not enough millipedes (diplopods) and centipedes (chilopods) in the ecological system to feed on the harmful fungal and bacterial growths which could control their numbers. The imbalance caused harmful microorganisms to flourish; it became difficult to manage plagues and diseases through natural processes.