Agent-based models for an interdisciplinary approach of pest management (the potato tuber moth in Ecuador)
Contributor(s)Laboratoire Evolution, Génomes et Spéciation (LEGS) ; Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS)
Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y naturales, Laboratorio de Entomologia ; Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Ecuador
CIRAD scientific workshop
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AbstractWorldwide, the theory and practice of agricultural extension system have been dominated for almost half a century by Rogers' "diffusion of innovation theory". In particular, the success of integrated pest management (IPM) extension programs depends on the effectiveness of IPM information diffusion from trained farmers to other farmers, an important assumption which underpins funding from development organizations. Here we developed an innovative approach through an agent-based model (ABM) combining social (diffusion theory) and biological (pest population dynamics) models to study the role of cooperation among small-scale farmers to share IPM information for controlling an invasive pest. The model was implemented with field data, including learning processes and control efficiency, from large scale surveys in the Ecuadorian Andes. Our results predict that although cooperation had short-term costs for individual farmers, it paid in the long run as it decreased pest infestation at the community scale. However, the slow learning process placed restrictions on the knowledge that could be generated within farmer communities over time, giving rise to natural lags in IPM diffusion and applications. We further showed that if individuals learn from others about the benefits of early prevention of new pests, then educational effort may have a sustainable long-run impact. Consistent with models of information diffusion theory, our results demonstrate how an integrated approach combining ecological and social systems would help better predict the success of IPM programs. This approach has potential beyond pest management as it could be applied to any resource management program seeking to spread innovations across populations.