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Organic Pest Control in Gardens or Fields

July 25, 2012

This is longer than the videos we normally upload – about 15 minutes – but there’s such a wealth of information it seemed that not only folks out there but those readers here on the blog might be interested.

In this segment Dr. Ayanava Majumdar discusses organic insect control, trap crops and biological controls.

Dr. Majumdar discussed several levels of pest management, starting with system based practices of seed selection, reflective mulch, not mowing grass on field edges during the drought and keeping weeds under control. Also avoiding overhead irrigation (sprinklers) and keep water consistent to avoid plant stress.

Sanitation is important – keeping equipment clean, not bringing bits of soil from insect area to clean areas. Crop rotation helps prevent pest buildup and trap crops deter and give them something else to target.

Floating row covers – netting or screens on a frame that fits over the crop – is another option. With these practices in place, organic approved insecticides can be used. Those with oil based can harm plants in the heat, and it was stressed to remember that all insecticides are poisons, including organic. Organic pesticides normally carry a CAUTION on the pesticide label, and include kaolin clay, pyrethrum, bacillus thruringiensis (Bt) and spinosad. Neem based products with the active ingredient azadirachtin are also effective and works best with immature and small insects.

Bt has gathered attention as use in GMO crops, but in fact is approved for organic use. It is, despite claims, specific to caterpillars, not any insect, and formulations that work against beetles and flies aren’t approved for organic use.

Spinosad is an option with high knock down but is toxic to bees and beneficial insects. Insecticidal soaps work if sprayed directly on the bugs.

This was just one part of the field day, but much food for thought! Although we aren’t seeking organic certification here, we do have a goal of reducing the chemical sprays we need. This is but an overview of information shared…but we definitely recommend attending a program in your area.

Many outside of agriculture aren’t familiar with the cooperative extension but they are a wealth of information on not only agriculture and gardening but food safety and nutrition!

And we never stop learning! Any readers know what this is? We’ll reveal the answer Friday if no one guesses it!

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