Several crop protection techniques were developed to prevent and minimize crop loss due to pests in the field (losses before harvest) and during storage (losses after harvest). Crop protection includes products, tools and practices that farmers can use to protect their crops against insects, diseases and weeds. Weeds steal sunlight, nutrients, and water from crops. Food production can be influenced by insects and diseases.
Farmers around the world choose different options every day to protect their crops through the use of different practices, such as biological control, microbial pesticides, pest behavior, genetic manipulation and the immunization of pest populations by plants. Fortunately, there are a variety of solutions available with the advancements of modern agriculture. Table 1 shows different methods for controlling pests and diseases. New seed technologies helped increase corn production in several ways.
Farmers were able to plant corn seeds more densely and earlier in the growing season. In addition, producers expanded the cultivated area of corn, as pest resistance and drought tolerance allowed cost-effective production in previously challenging regions. Genetically modified seeds also caused changes in other production practices. For example, the increase in the use of drought-resistant seeds has coincided with a slight decrease in the irrigated area and a greater use of seeds resistant to insects, due to changes in chemical applications.
The Agency for International Development shared that organic agriculture is more difficult than conventional agriculture, especially for pest control, but it produces organically due to high yields (personal communication). When you compare productivity, biodiversity, water quality, external environmental impacts, carbon footprint, climate change and other aspects, carefully managed conventional agriculture seems to be more sustainable than organic agriculture. The characteristics of high and low productivity corn farms reflect the effects of farm size and different natural endowments, and also show regional concentrations.