Controlling Pests without Chemicals

Article excerpt

A survey examining the success of biological control of insects in agriculture concludes that this natural approach to pest containment is far more effective than often appreciated and should be more widely used. Several case studies explored by researchers at Oregon State University, Corvallis, found that biological pest control can solve problems effectively on a long-term basis and may yield a return on investment of 100-1,000% in the first year alone, after which the benefits go up in perpetuity.

"In these specific cases, we were surprised at the degree of success of biocontrol, how widespread and quickly it worked, how cost-effective it was," indicates M.T. AliNiazee, professor of entomology. Based on this, there's no doubt in my mind that biocontrol should be more heavily exploited."

In an agricultural world riddled with insect pests, biological control most often is the use of an insect parasitoid, predator, or pathogen to eliminate the damaging pest. Other tools like pheromones and trapping are possibilities as well. Utilizing this approach, AliNiazee points out, does not suggest that chemical pest control is ruled out entirely. Lower amounts of chemicals, or careful timing of their use, can be combined with biological control and other agricultural tools in a concept called "integrated pest management" (IPM).

Biocontrol has found some of its greatest success in perennial crops, including fruits and nuts. …