Conventional agriculture  vs. Organic agriculture (their differences in pest control and diseases)

Speaking only of the agriculture supported by the soil (which excludes hydroponics), what needs to be done if a sign of a pest or a disease arises in the plants?

The conventional agriculture approach is to fight that pest or disease by applying commercial products, that like a treatment will immediately eliminate the organisms that are causing the damage, boosting over time not only the ecosystem imbalance but also the population growth of those organisms, since they will become more resistant to the applications of phytopharmaceuticals. In this case, the focus is in the healing effect.

But the organic agriculture approach is to use preventive methods to avoid or minimize the appearance of pests and diseases such as:

  • improving soil conditions, which is the basis of plant nutrition;
  • using organic fertilizers (which is related to the previous point);
  • using regional varieties more adapted to the soil and the climatic conditions of that region;
  • using species more resistant to certain diseases;
  • doing crop rotations and consociations (it is very common the term antagonists vs. companion plants);
  • Conservation and enhancement of biodiversity regarding fauna and flora, including “beneficial insects” through for example the installation of hedges or sites for ecological compensation;

Therefore it is important:

*To recognize the pests that cause major damages to the crop, so that the farmer can adopt practices that encourage the reproduction of its main natural enemies, or create unfavorable environmental conditions to the multiplication of unwanted organisms;

*To recognize the natural enemies of the pests (several insects, fungi and bacteria) as agents that can have beneficial effects in the biological control of major pests and diseases;

*To track the presence of pests  – by counting the number of eggs, larvae, caterpillars and adult organisms (in insects case) and bacterial and fungal diseases – by observation of the plants.

The use of these more sustainable practices allows a greater ecological balance, since it considers the system as a whole.

However, the persistence of certain pests and diseases in nature is common and sometimes it isn`t sufficient to adopt only preventive measures.

In this context, the mobile app OpenPD (which you can download freely in is a very useful tool since it enhances, in a simple and fast way, the identification of pests and diseases through the help of the community that supports it – farmers, technicians and academics.


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The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Union Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement no. 632738.

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