Escaping the Lock-in to Pesticide Use: Do Vietnamese Farmers Respond to Flower Strips as a Restoration Practice or Pest Management Action?

An examination of agronomic and pest management responses to flower strips among farmers in Vietnam.

Authors: Finbarr G. Horgan, Enrique A. Mundaca, Shweta Dabholkar, Mark Davis, Josef Settele, Eduardo Crisol-Martínez
Published in: Sustainability


Ecological engineering using linear flower strips is proposed as an alternative to insecticide-based rice pest management. However, its success depends on farmers’ appreciations of related interventions as part of an ecosystem restoration process.

We examined agronomic and pest management responses to flower strips among 305 farmers surveyed at 12 villages in the Mekong Delta Region (MDR) of Vietnam. Practices by conventional farmers at the same villages were used as a baseline. The ecological engineering farmers mainly integrated flower strips with pest management practices by reducing insecticide applications before 40 days after rice crop establishment (ca 38% of farmers; 9% more than on conventional farms). Flower strips were also associated with less frequent and irregular insecticide applications or with insecticide-free rice (i.e., possibly IPM: ca 19% of ecological engineering farmers). Otherwise, farmers (ca 43% of ecological engineering farmers) continued to apply insecticides prophylactically and, in some cases, applied more insecticides than their conventional neighbors.

Flower strips were not associated with reductions in any other pesticides. Reported yields were not directly affected by flower strips or pesticide inputs. Our results suggest that ecological engineering was not widely regarded by participating farmers as an ecosystem restoration practice, but rather, as a pest management action. Further promotion of flower strips as a component of ecosystem restoration is required to break the lock-in to pesticide use at ecologically engineered rice farms in the MDR.