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A simulation modeling approach to aid research into the control of a stalk-borer in the South African Sugar Industry.

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The control of the African stalk borer Eldana saccharina Walker (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae) in sugarcane fields of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa has proved problematical. Researchers at the South African Sugarcane Research Institute (SASRI) have since 1974 been intensively investigating various means of controlling the pest. Among the methods of control currently being investigated are biological control, chemical control, production of more resistant varieties and crop management. These investigations, however, require many years of experimentation before any conclusions can be made. In order to aid the research currently being carried out in the Entomology Department at SASRI (to investigate biological control strategies, insecticide application strategies and the carry-over decision), a simulation model of E. saccharina growth in sugarcane has been formulated. The model is cohort-based and includes the effect of temperature on the physiological development of individuals in each life-stage of the insect. It also takes into account the effect of the condition of sugarcane on the rate of E. saccharina infestation, by making use of output from the sugarcane growth model CANEGRO. Further, a crop damage index is defined that gives an indication of the history of E. saccharina infestation levels during the sugarcane’s growth period. It is linked to the physiological activity of the borer during the period spent feeding on the stalk tissue. The damage index can further be translated into length of stalks bored and hence the percentage of the stalk length bored can be calculated at each point in the simulation using the total length of stalks calculated in the CANEGRO model. Using an industry accepted relationship between percent stalks damaged and reduction in sucrose content of the crop, reductions in losses in the relative value of the crop when the various control measures are implemented can be compared. Relationships between the reduction in percent stalk length bored (and hence gains in the relative value of the crop) and the various control strategies are obtained.


Thesis (Ph.D.)-University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermartzburg, 2008.


Sugarcane--Diseases and pests., Insect pests--Mathematical models., Pests--Ecology., Mathematical optimization--Computer simulation., Pests--Control--South Africa., Agricultural pests--Control., Theses--Mathematics.