A step by step guide for organic vegetable pest control
The organic pest control method is also known as biological pest control, is a method of controlling pest animal species (predators, pathogens or parasites). The most common natural processes that allow this are known as predation, parasitism, and herbivory. For the last century, the most important achievements in terms of organic pest control were made by humans. The anthropogenic factor creates an environment for the development and maintenance of integrated pest management (IPM) programs. The natural predators of pests are known as biological control agents. These are generally predators but organisms such as parasitoids and pathogens belong to the same category.
It’s very important to point out that any type of organic pest control leaves a footprint on Earth and affects insect biodiversity. If not executed properly, an IPM can lead to the extermination of a particular pest species, which is a natural prey of the newly introduced predator.
Types of organic vegetable pest control:
Here we discuss types of organic pest control. They are;
Importation is also called classical biological control. These consist of importing and releasing exotic natural enemies that are known to control the exotic pests in their native region. The long-term aim of importations is to establish a stable natural enemy-pest interaction that could maintain the pest’s population below the economic injury level. Ideally, the natural enemy must be able to subsist and multiply on the pest and to occupy a similar range of habitats.
The major difference between the importation and the augmentation methods of organic pest control is that augmentation is used on natural enemies of pests that already live in the infested area, no importation is required.
During augmentation, the control agents’ population gets boosted by people who manually discharge more of them in precise intervals of time. This helps in the faster reproduction of the control agents so that they can make a population big enough to destroy the targeted pest.
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Another important approach of the augmentation process is to release a large population of the control agent all at once; this is known as the inoculative release. When this is done, the control agent must exterminate the targeted pest as soon as possible, before its population gets out of control too quickly.
A parasitoid wasp is often released on the territory of crops where the population of greenhouse whitefly threatens the production method. The wasps deal with the pest naturally and don’t cause any damage to the crops.
Pesticides kill beneficial predators, parasites, and pathogens with pests, and can cause outbreaks of secondary pests or rapid resurgence of pests that were initially suppressed. Using non-chemical control methods or pesticides which kill the target pest protects natural enemies. Some examples of predators are spiders, lacewings, lady beetles, ground beetles, rove beetles, syrphid flies, flower flies, hoverflies, true bugs (including minute pirate bugs, big-eyed bugs, and damsel bugs), predatory mites and even fire ants. However, important natural enemies are rarely seen, such as parasitic wasps and flies (more than 8,500 species), nematodes and pathogenic bacteria and fungi.
Some popular essential oils used for pest control:
Depending on particular pest issue, some popular essential oils used for pest control include;
Peppermint, Eucalyptus, Spearmint: spiders, ants, roaches, centipedes, aphids, fleas, ticks, beetles, gnats, caterpillars, lice, nits, silverfish, moths, other flying bugs.
Sage, Thyme or Oregano: chiggers, beetles, flies.
Tea Tree Oil: centipedes, fleas, no see ums, flies, and other insects.
Litsea Cubeba: fleas, mosquitoes, and gnats
Cedarwood: aphids, lice nits, moths, slugs, and snails.
Lemongrass: fleas, ticks, no see ums, mosquitoes, biting flies, and chiggers.
Lavender: chiggers, fleas, ticks, flies, lice nits, silverfish, mosquitoes, moths.
Vanilla extract: no see ums, mosquito, centipedes, and biting flies.
Some organic pest control methods in vegetables:
Let us discuss some organic pest control methods in vegetables;
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- Avoid monocropping: A mono-crop is the planting of an entire bed or field with just one crop. As you might guess, this method of growing makes the risk of crop loss high. Many insect pests are attracted to definite plants, so they will attack a whole row if they can easily move from one plant to another. If an entire field of corn becomes infested with the corn borer, for example, then the entire area is vulnerable to widespread attack because that pest has found its ideal habitat.
- Use diverse cropping, an alternative method of planting vegetables. The idea is that a greater selection of plants in one area will confuse pests and even attract predatory and beneficial insects. You can plant a diversity of crops in the entire bed, or intermix your crop plants with flowering plants. Interplanting of companion planting with flowers or vegetables of a different selection can help you avoid an explosion of pest populations. Moreover, mix plants of different shapes and sizes to avoid shading out plants and to save space.
- Plant a cover crop to enrich the soil after harvest time. You can try intercropping one with one of the vegetable crops. For example, intercropping clover with long-season row crop will have some benefits, as the clover can act as mulch, suppressing weeds, while fixing nitrogen in the soil area. (White clover, Trifolium repens, is a perennial plant, low-growing clover that tolerates shade and is useful in many situations.)
- The mulching process is a cultural control that can keep down weeds and moderate temperature extremes at the soil surface. Mulch is a layer of material, preferably organic matter, placed on the soil surface to conserve moisture, hold down weeds, and ultimately increase soil structure and fertility.
- A mulched vegetable plant is exposed to less extreme temperatures. Unmulched roots could be damaged by sudden thaws and frosts. Mulch keeps the soil warmer in winter and cooler in the summer season. Some mulch is rich in minerals and over time, rain works them into the soil to feed the roots of plants. Therefore, mulch fertilizes the soil while it sits on the surface, and overtime as it decays.
- Mulching reduces weed growth and saves time spent weeding. The mulching process prevents erosion from wind and heavy rains.
- Vegetable plants that sprawl along the ground, like squashes or cucumbers, can stay dry and clean by not touching the soil. The mulch also helps prevent mildew, mold, and rot.
Prevention pests in an organic system:
In organic farming, the main principles of the integrated pest control are perfectly applicable in substantializing the mechanisms for fighting pests, diseases, but chemical means are forbidden; instead, new unconventional methods have been used, like some biodynamic preparations.
The strong attack of some pests can be favored by a few technical mistakes, in general, or mistakes in the environmental context such as the following;
- Improper choice of the place of culture;
- Using seeds or plants that are weakly developed;
- Mistakes in crop association;
- Practicing monocultures without using proper crop rotation;
- Incorrectly executed soil tillage;
- Unilateral or excessive fertilization, without organic fertilizers;
- Insufficient fertilization;
- Extreme weather conditions; and
- Improper choice of the sowing period.
Some effective methods of organic vegetable pest control
An organic pest killer that is moderately toxic to most mammals and occurs naturally in seeds and stems of some plants. Use rotenone with caution near ponds or lakes, as rotenone is extremely toxic to fish. It will kill leaf-feeding caterpillars, beetles, aphids, and thrips on vegetable crops.
One of the most commonly used botanical insecticides in the U.S.; pyrethrin is extracted from the chrysanthemum plant. It is non-toxic to most mammals, making it a particularly safe choice.
This pyrethrin insecticide is a powerful, fast-acting deterrent, even at low doses. Upon exposure, most flying insects will instantly drop, but may not always be killed. Some manufacturers mix this pyrethrin with more fatal solutions to ensure insect death.
Bt is the shortened version of Bacillus thuringiensis, naturally-occurring bacteria that make pests sick when ingested. Spray Bt on leafy vegetables that caterpillars eat and Bt will kill them from the inside out. Because it’s harmful upon eating, this is an extremely safe organic pesticide for preserving beneficial insects.
Neem oil is extracted from a common Asian tree and inhibits the growth cycle of insects. Its active ingredient, azadirachtin, will cause infected insects to eat less, develop more slowly, and molt less. This is a very good option for those who don’t yet have major pest infestations and want to get a head start on reducing the number of potential pests.
Diatomaceous earth is used in dry instances and becomes less effective when wet. While it targets some indoor bugs, it will kill Japanese beetles, cutworms, flies, ticks, crickets, slugs, and other species. Unfortunately, it will kill beneficial insects, therefore use caution.
Certain minerals can be used to control pests. Sulfur is sold as a liquid, wettable dust or pastes and control spider mites, psyllids, and thrips. Minerals use on vegetables like beans, potatoes, tomatoes, or peas. While it is non-toxic to humans, it can irritate skin and eyes. The downside to using sulfur is that it has been damaged plants in dry weather when temperatures reach above 90°F, and it is incompatible with other pesticides.
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Some of the most common and troublesome pests in vegetables:
Carrot rust flies– maggots or flies larvae that make brown tunnels in carrot’s roots.
Beet leaf minor – these little larvae dig into the plant leaves of beets, spinach, and chard and eats up all the green tissue between the upper and lower leaf surface causing tan blotches on the leaves.
Flea beetles – tiny, shiny, black beetles that hop quickly off a plant when examining it, but are responsible for holes in the leaves that make the plant look like it was hit with buckshot. Likes a variety of crops but particularly potatoes, mustards, radishes, and tomatoes.
Cabbage worms – essentially a collection of moth and butterfly larvae that eat big holes in cabbage crop leaves. The two most regular are the green “inchworm” caterpillar of a geometrid moth and the velvety green caterpillar of the cabbage white butterfly.
Aphids – small sucking insects that come in many colors and with a taste for several different crops. The grayish, waxy, cole family aphids and the big, black bean aphids are the two that seem mainly troublesome.
Cutworms – A hairless moth caterpillar that sneaks out at night to feast on seedlings leaves and sometimes fruit like tomatoes.
Slugs – another beast that works at night or on overcast or rainy days and eats just about anything. If you can’t tell whether you have slugs or caterpillars appear for slime trails, a sure sign of slugs, or frass. Caterpillar frass or a polite word for poop is blocky, squarish pellets and slug frass is a squiggly pile.
Organic vegetable pest control process:
- Screening out insects is an old process but it just got a lot easier now that floating row covers have eliminated the need for constructing frames. Floating row covers (FRC) sold under several different trade names, like Reemay and Agronet, are indispensable tools for the vegetable gardener wishing to avoid or to cut back on the use of pesticides. These extremely light-weight materials are laid right over the rows leaving sufficient slack in them so the crop pushes the row cover-up as it grows.
- The light and water can get through the Floating row cover fine, so you only have to remove them occasionally to weed, thin and check for slugs. Floating row covers can prevent most of the common vegetable pests but are used most often on crops favored by cabbage maggot, carrot rust fly and beet leaf-miner.
- The material works by excluding the adult female fly and preventing from laying eggs on or near the crop. Without rotations, the adult flies will emerge from the soil under the FRC with the seedlings or transplants, trapped in with the crop you wished to protect from them, and you will have a worse problem than ever.
- Rotations alone can be a very important organic pest control technique. It is of most help with the soil-borne disease but, to a smaller extent, insect populations can build up as well if the same crop is planted in the same area season after season.
- Hand-picking is a labor-intensive but effective method to control insects large enough to be seen as destroyed. Cabbage worms can often be spotted and wandering tent caterpillars are simple to grab.
- Cutworms and slugs can be captured at night if patrol your plants with a flashlight. Hand-picking will make you look at plants up close and will soon make familiar with all the bugs.
That’s all folks about Organic vegetable pest control methods and their process.
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