Developing Strategies in Non-Chemical Pest Control
Natural products, commonly referred to NPs, have been used for pest control for eons and have often served as an inspiration for many commercial pesticides. However, aside from toxicity, problems almost always occur when synthetic insecticides are used, especially over the long term.
For short-term use, synthetic insecticides can be used successful for pest control, but continually using chemicals can have serious consequences, such as insects becoming resistant to the compounds and interfere with plant life-cycle processes like nitrogen fixation and photo synthesis. As a result, over the past decade there has been a significant shift from the use of chemical agents to developing strategies in non-chemical pest control.
Research in using non-chemical means to control pests is seeing revolutionary results, such as reported on NZFarmer in the article “Non-chemical pest control promising.” A new study from Lincoln University’s Biology Husbandry Unit details the results from field trials showing how the employment of a mesh covering placed over potato plants was highly effective in controlling certain species of psyllids and reducing the incidence of potato blight.
Whenever dealing with pests, maintaining a healthy garden is the single greatest defense. The best, and simplest, way to avoid insect damage in the garden is to prevent the bugs from getting a foothold in the first place. Here are a few non-chemical pest control tips:
It all starts in the dirt, and building healthy organic-rich soil is the best place to start. Poor soil leads to weak plants, which become a welcome target for predators. However, strong and healthy plants have a natural ability to resist both insects and disease.
Seaweed mulch or spray contains many trace elements like barium, calcium, sulfur, magnesium, Iron and zinc, that will help strengthen plants to resist disease as well as repel insects, like slugs and some species of flies.
Clearing the garden area of deed debris and growing weeds will minimize insect habitat, as these are ideal breeding places for pests. Use only clean mulch and remove any weak plants, as unhealthy specimens may already be infected and will attract bugs. Dispose of all debris well away from growing areas.
Many insects are plant specific, so be sure to rotate and interplant crops as this will keep insects from spreading throughout a densely-plant crop.
Damp foliage attracts insect to plants. Water early in the day, or use drip irrigation methods, so plants will have a head start on absorbing the moisture and also to keep the foliage from staying wet during the day.
Clean boots and gardening tools between working in different areas of the garden to reduce the spread of insects. Use a disinfectant on gardening tools after working in areas with visible infestations.
In the natural world everything eats something else. Using a beneficial species, meaning insects that do not harm plants, on insects that do attack plants is one of the best strategies in non-chemical pest control. Here are two examples:
Ladybugs are perhaps the best known and most widely-used beneficial insect, and will absolutely devour aphids, scale, mites and whiteflies. Ladybugs can be naturally drawn to the garden by planting compositae, tansy and yarrow.
Ichneumon wasps, brachonids and chalcids will quickly eradicate leaf-eating caterpillars and can be attracted by planting carrots, caraway, celery and parsley and letting some of the plants flower.
Of course in if you ever need professional pest control we provide the leading solutions in organic pest control and techniques.
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