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Pest Level

Pests are organisms that are considered detrimental to human concerns. In the case of crops or livestock, pests reduce productivity and can even cause mortality. Pests include weeds, animals, insects, fungi, and bacteria.

How to operationalize the metric

Method of data collection and data needed to compute the method:

Pest abundance and severity by type (e.g., insect, weed, disease, parasite, invasive species) can be assessed using the quadrat method described in detail in the Crop Residue Productivity Indicator – Metric 1, measurement method 1.

Insect pests are determined by different methods. They can be estimated by net sweeps for mobile insects or through crop scouting for pests like aphids or bollworms that would not be reliably caught in a sweep net. Locally developed integrated pest management (IPM) recommendations can be used to identify threshold values.

Participatory approaches can also be used to obtain farmers’ assessments of the presence and severity of pests and the potential risks to crop and animal productivity. For details on carrying out farmer ratings, see the Crop Yield Indicator – Metric 2. Those methods can be adapted to ask farmers to rate the abundance and severity of any type of pest.

Unit of analysis:

The species and number of individuals of each species should be recorded and expressed as species of “weeds or invasives” per unit area or by field type (e.g., maize fields), as well as number of individuals of each type of insect per area, as an indication of severity.

Limitations regarding estimating and interpreting:

Interpreting the impact of pest abundance requires considering the specific timing in relation to crop production and the animal’s stage of growth. Populations of many pests can change quickly, so it is important to compare levels across sites at the same point in time or the same phase of crop or animal growth.

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