Drip Chemigation of Insecticides as a Pest Management Tool in Vegetable Production
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Drip, or trickle, irrigation was used as early as the late 1800s, although it was not until the development of modern plastics during World War II that drip irrigation became economically possible. Developed initially to reduce or prevent moisture stress in the plant, drip irrigation systems also offer an excellent method to apply agrichemicals to the root zone of plants. The application of insecticides through a drip irrigation system was first attempted in the 1980s by using various carbamates and organophosphates, although success was limited. Currently, several newly-developed insecticides such as the neonicotinoids and anthranilic diamides are drip-injected for the control of many vegetable insect pests. The advantages of drip-injection of insecticides over ground application methods include a uniform distribution of insecticide throughout the plant; a reduction in pesticide application inputs, including manpower and vehicle or tractor fuel; and a reduction in soil compaction, plant disturbance, and applicator exposure to pesticides. Insecticides applied through a drip irrigation system can replace or reduce the number of foliar insecticide sprays, reducing the risks to nontarget species.