Organic Farming & Integrated Pest Management – How they Limit Pesticide Use

What is Organic Farming?

Organic Farming systems try to minimize off farm input (which can include fertilizers, and pesticides). It also frequently employs various pest management tactics (IPM) which do not involve pesticides. Genetically modified crops (GMO) are not used in organic farming. Soil fertility is maintained through crop rotations (which employ nitrogen-fixing legumes), and these can also have pest-management benefits.

Benefits of Organic Farming to Pollinators

A Swedish study found that organic farming had better pollination. The crop they used to measure this was Strawberries and the study included 12 farms. Farms were grouped into 3 categories: Established Organic Farms, New Organic Farms, & Conventional Farms. New organic farms showed the same amount of pollination success as established farms and both had greater success than conventional farms.

Integrated Pest Management (IPM)

IPM is a system of pest management that employs several pest management tactics (mulching, natural enemies etc.). Some pest damage is considered acceptable and there is an economic threshold above which the damage warrants action. Pesticides are considered a last resort and there are restrictions on which ones can be used.

IPM Pesticides
Qualities of a Good IPM Pesticide

  1. Selective: Only affects intended target or a narrow range of things.
  2. Not Persistent: Does not linger in the environment for a long time.
  3. Minimal Environmental Impact

Unacceptable Pesticides

  • Pyrethroid Insecticides or Acaricides
  • Organochlorine Insecticides & Acaricides (if safer alternatives exist)
  • All Acaricides that are toxic to Phytoseiid Mites
  • Toxic, water-polluting or very persistent Herbicides

Pesticides Allowed with Restrictions (When no safer alternatives exist)

  • Broad Spectrum Organo-Phosphate & Carbamate Insecticides
  • Acaricides harmful to Phytoseiid Mites
  • Dithiocarbamate Fungicides
  • Sulfur & Copper
  • Fungicides with high potential for resistance

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