Organic Horticulture - Pest Control Approaches

Pest Control Approaches

Differing approaches to pest control are equally notable. In chemical horticulture, a specific insecticide may be applied to quickly kill off a particular insect pest. Chemical controls can dramatically reduce pest populations in the short term, yet by unavoidably killing (or starving) natural control insects and animals, cause an increase in the pest population in the long term, thereby creating an ever increasing problem. Repeated use of insecticides and herbicides also encourages rapid natural selection of resistant insects, plants and other organisms, necessitating increased use, or requiring new, more powerful controls.

In contrast, organic horticulture tends to tolerate some pest populations while taking the long view. Organic pest control requires a thorough understanding of pest life cycles and interactions, and involves the cumulative effect of many techniques, including:
• Allowing for an acceptable level of pest damage
• Encouraging predatory beneficial insects to flourish and eat pests
• Encouraging beneficial microorganisms
• Careful plant selection, choosing disease-resistant varieties
• Planting companion crops that discourage or divert pests
• Using row covers to protect crop plants during pest migration periods
• Rotating crops to different locations from year to year to interrupt pest reproduction cycles
• Using insect traps to monitor and control insect populations

Each of these techniques also provides other benefits, such as soil protection and improvement, fertilization, pollination, water conservation and season extension. These benefits are both complementary and cumulative in overall effect on site health. Organic pest control and biological pest control can be used as part of integrated pest management (IPM). However, IPM can include the use of chemical pesticides that are not part of organic or biological techniques.

Read more about this topic:  Organic Horticulture

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