Fighting pests and diseases in agriculture without using huge amounts of artificial pesticides is possible. It is about taking a series of measures that complement each other. Among these measures are preventive measures, aimed at preventing the attack on our crops, and control measures, aimed at killing and destroying pests. Preventive measures are long-term, while control is established in the short term.
What are pest prevention measures in organic farming
Preventive measures for the management of pests and diseases are based on the premise that a healthy plant will be much less sensitive to attack by pests and diseases. Therefore, one of the primary objectives of the organic farmer must be to maintain the conditions as favorable as possible to the crop he is developing. Preventive measures are of vital importance.
Plants in nature constantly interact with their environment and this interaction is very important for their health. A properly managed ecosystem, cultivating the right species at the right time, is an effective way to reduce the incidence of pests and diseases . For example, there are species of plants that are better adapted to certain environmental conditions, since they have more efficient defense mechanisms, and have lower risks of suffering from pests. It is known that in general a plant species presents a greater risk of pests in the case of monocultures.
The fertility of the soil in which a plant grows greatly influences its health. If the soil has a suitable pH and nutritional elements with the requirements of the crop, it will develop better and stronger, and therefore it will be less sensitive to diseases and pests.
Other important factors are climate, temperature or the availability of water. The problem with these conditions not being met is that the plant can become stressed, which leads to its defense mechanisms weakening and it is more prone to diseases and pests.
Thus, to answer the questions about how to combat pests in organic farming , we recommend that you first ensure their prevention as much as possible and that, when they have already appeared, they are eliminated in an ecological way with control measures, as explained below .
To begin, we explain which are the most effective pest prevention measures in organic farming :
- Selection of resistant species: choose varieties of plants that adapt well to the environment on which we are going to grow them, since they will grow stronger and more resistant
- Use of healthy seeds and clean plant materials: seeds must be pathogen-free and materials must come from reliable sources
- Perfect cropping systems – Most beneficial for reducing pests and diseases, using mixed cropping systems, rotating crops, and using green manures and cover crops
- Provide nutrients to the soil: fertilize the soil moderately (not excessively). It is also important to provide potassium
- Provide organic matter: provides microorganisms to the soil, which promote aeration and make nutrients available to plants
- Control weeds in the soil
- Use water well: add water, but without flooding it
- Maintain the natural enemies of pests: they exert a biological control over pathogens
- Planning a cultivation schedule and in suitable densities: it can reduce the incidence of pests
- Use sanitary measures: when infected parts are detected, eliminate them, so that it does not spread
Even if we correctly apply pest and disease prevention measures in organic farming , they may not be enough to prevent the development of these problems in the health of crops and plants. When these develop, measures must be aimed at eliminating them, which can be done through mechanical or biological control of pests .
Mechanical pest control
- Light traps: Useful to fight against moths, worms, cutters and other nocturnal insects
- Colored traps, adhesives: useful for fighting adult thrips.
- Water traps.
- Yellow sticky traps: useful for fighting whiteflies, aphids and leaf miners.
- Fruit bagging: thus preventing fruit flies from laying their eggs on the fruit and spreading the pest.
Biological control of pests
- Releasing natural enemies of pests: such as ladybugs or hoverflies, which are natural predators of aphids.
- Bacteria such as Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt): commercially available in pesticides.
- Fungi that kill insects: such as Beauveria bassiana . It is sold commercially.
- Making and Home Use of Natural Pesticides: Pesticides can be made from various plants such as garlic or nicotine.