Biodiversity: Maintaining the balance: IRRI Annual Report 1997-1998
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Rice is a valuable crop that has been the staple food for people worldwide for more than 6,000 years. This book discusses the biological diversity found in and around rice growing systems and the importance of maintaining that biological diversity as a means of controlling pests, improving rice yields, and preserving the environment for future generations. A tropical rice field harbors several hundred different life species, all of which interact to form an intricate ecosystem that, if allowed to flourish, can naturally control rice pests and diseases. The use of chemical insecticides and herbicides upsets the natural balance of pests and their predators, and can worsen pest problems for the rice farmer. Integrated pest management programs being developed by IRRI and taught to farmers utilize biological controls (such as growing a mix of plants in the rice landscape that will maintain predatory insects), disease-resistant rice varieties, and cultural practices to control rice pests and diseases using as little chemical control as possible.