Wednesday, September 23, 2015

K.L. Heong wins International Plant Protection Award of Distinction

The International Association for the Plant Protection Sciences (IAPPS) has bestowed upon K.L. Heong the International Plant Protection Award of Distinction (IPPAD). Dr. Heong was an entomologist at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) for more than 25 years (1988-2013).

At the awarding ceremonies in Berlin, Germany, during the XVIII International Plant Protection Congress (IPPC) on 24 August, he was cited for his contributions to the study of tropical rice insect ecology, which has led to an understanding of the reason for certain rice pest outbreaks, especially the devastating brown planthopper (BPH). He was also recognized for his global networking with many colleagues in other disciplines, professions, and countries, in the development and implementation of improved policies and strategies for the sustainable management of rice pests.

Highlights of his ecological research studies indicated that leaf-feeding insects rarely cause yield loss and that the infamous BPH is a secondary pest caused by early applications of insecticides for controlling leaf-feeding insects. To promote the activity of natural enemies, he developed the now famous slogan, “no insecticide use in the first 40 days after planting.”

KL’s biodiversity research, designed to promote the action of biocontrol agents, included the growing of plants, particularly on the levees, that provide food for natural enemies. His research studies were unique among plant protection scientists as they were designed to transfer best management practices to farmers through social science research and techniques.

His studies showed that effective pesticide polices and regulations are a key component for the development, implementation, and sustainability of national rice transfer integrated pest management (IPM) programs. As shown in the illustrations here, KL’s approach was to distill science into simple rules and IPM technology through mass educational campaigns consisting of several forms of media —soap operas, radio, TV, comic books, and videos.

KL is currently the Qiushi Chair Professor at Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China. Professor Zhu at Zhejiang University accepted the award on behalf of KL who could not be present.

View three excerpts from KL’s IRRI Pioneer Interview in which he discusses the fact that routine spraying of insecticides on rice crops is unwise and puts forth some challenges for IRRI in the future.

The IPPAD was first presented at the IPPC held in Rio de Janeiro in 1991 to honor those who have made significant contributions to plant protection on an international basis and who otherwise have served with distinction in advancing the cause of the plant protection sciences.

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