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Banana plantations - Costa Rica

Continuous use of crop protection products

Critics of the banana industry raised concerns about the effect on biodiversity within banana plantations through the continuous use of fungicides, herbicides, insecticides and nematicides over the same land and same crop for many years.

Why use crop protection products in bananas?

  • The hot and humid tropical conditions which are good for bananas are also good for their biological enemies
  • Banana plants are perennials and when grown in plantations over many years become a consistently available food source or host for pests and diseases that weaken or kill them.

The main problems are:

Bunch Bagging in banana, Costa Rica (18Kb JPEG)
Bunch Bagging in banana, Costa Rica
  • Black Sigatoka leaf spot disease (Mycosphaerella fijienses) requiring weekly sprays of fungicides often applied by air
  • A burrowing nematocde Radopholus similis Cobb requiring targeted applications of nematicides around the base of the plant
  • Various insects often treated by “bunch bagging” where bags are impregnated with crop protection products and tied over the bunches.
  • Weeds which compete for nutrients and are controlled by applying Paraquat between rows direct to the ground.

Conclusions:

  • There were no negative effects of herbicides and fungicides on the ant or parasitic wasp community structures
  • Where there were low levels of microbial activity this was not attributable to the use of crop protection products but to the uneven distribution of organic matter.
  • The use of insecticides to protect bunch bagged fruit have the greatest impact on parasitic wasps and thus new alternatives to the insecticides used in bunch bagging should continue to be evaluated.
  • The impact on biodiversity of crop protection products used in banana are: herbicides (least impact) – fungicides – insecticides – nematicides (most impact).

The Crop Protection section of the Integrated Farm Management Wheel will become available from this site and will offer practical guidance on how to “keep pest and disease levels below economically damaging thresholds using the most appropriate methods, through a process of Prevention, Observation and Intervention”.


 
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