Summertime is here! As the season progresses, planted crops are germinating, or have already emerged and are advancing through their stages. On top of the ever-changing weather we’ve had this year, farmers have another problem – pests. Pesky bugs like flea beetles, aphids, grasshoppers, and many more are chewing through your crops. Many of you have probably already resorted to using pesticides to remedy the situation. In this week’s edition of Growing Possibilities, we will discuss the usage of pesticides, alternate methods of pest control, and the benefits of pesticides during your inoculant processes.
Pesticides, as we have discussed in a previous blog post, are substances or mixtures that are used to control or kill a certain pest, such as invasive herbs, fungi, insects, nematodes, and so on. Traditional pesticides primarily act upon the pests’ nervous system, disrupting enzyme processes and thereby ceasing their physiological functions (1). However, pesticides have the ability to affect other elements in your field aside from the intended target, which you can read about here. To avoid the repercussions of using traditional pesticides, alternative methods of organic, sustainable, and cost-effective pest control are available. Let’s dive into a few of these methods!
The first alternative method is biosolarization. Biosolarization creates soil conditions prior to seeding that are harmful to pests using solar heat and actions of the soil microflora (2). During the warm summer months, organic matter is incorporated into the soil to accelerate growth of the soil’s natural biopesticides. A drip line is laid, and then the soil is covered with a clear plastic tarp to capture the sun’s heat. In these conditions, soil oxygen levels decrease, instigating microbial fermentation (2). This fermentation produces organic acids which are deadly to the pests, but not for humans, future crops, or the environment.
The second alternative method is biological control, or biocontrol. Biocontrol involves the introduction of biological control agents (BCAs) into your fields’ ecosystems to control the pest populations (3). These BCAs can be predators, pathogens, parasites/parasitoids, or even plants! However, it is important to do your due diligence and determine which BCA will be best suited for your crop – extensive research has been conducted on many BCAs to ensure they only attack the pests, not your fields (4, 5)!
The final alternative method that we’ll discuss today is biopesticides. Now you may be wondering, aren’t biopesticides just a form of biocontrol? Not always! Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada defines biopesticides as “pest management agents and chemicals derived from natural sources such as bacteria, fungi, viruses, plants, animals and minerals” (6). So, a biopesticide may only contain the product of a microorganism, such as the insecticidal toxins produced by the bacteria Bacillus theuringiensis.
These are just a few of the many organic, sustainable, and cost-effective solutions to eliminating annoying pests from your fields. You may also consider using XiteBio® Yield+ on your crops, as it is tank-mixable with most post-emergent herbicides, so you can fight invasive pests while giving your crops better access to the phosphorus within the soil. Whichever pest control method you use, here at XiteBio®, we believe in Healthier Plants, Better Yields!
Don’t know if your desired pesticide is compatible with XiteBio® Yield+? Refer to our compatibility sheets! If you are interested in a pesticide, seed treatment, or tank mix that is not listed on our compatibility chart, contact your local XiteBio® sales representative and we would be happy to do a compatibility test for you!