Types of Organic Pesticides
As organic food purchases surpass $60 billion in the United States and more farmers and home gardeners seek to switch to organic food production, the range of organic pesticides and all the different options available can be overwhelming. Exploring these different options and wading through the contradictory information surrounding organic food production is only becoming more complicated as organic produce demand grows.
This doesn’t need to be the case. We can break down organic crop protection methods and types of organic pesticides into a few categories. Initially, the broadest categories of organic crop protection approaches are no-touch solutions and direct application solutions. If you haven’t yet heard the term no-touch beyond organic solutions before don’t worry, we’ll dig deeper into that term and the pesticide alternatives within that category in a later section of this post.
Within the direct application category of organic pesticides, we have organic chemical products, these are similar to traditional non-organic pesticides. They are chemicals, typically liquids applied directly to crops as sprays or fogs. These solutions have been deemed organic through various governmental and private regulatory organizations and accepted as less harmful or non-harmful by the public. The use of these solutions will increase the value and marketability of produce and allow for farmers to keep up with the growing organic trend. However, these organic pesticide sprays are typically significantly more expensive than non-organic pesticides. Additionally, they are typically non-systemic, and less effective than harsher non-organic pesticides. This means you will need more applications at higher concentrations and therefore higher rates of chemical purchasing along with increases in labor costs for application.
Organic Chemical Pesticides
Within the organic chemical pesticide category, there are a myriad of brands and pesticide types. From essential oil mixes such as neem oils, lemongrass oils among many others, to plant surface PH adjustments, insecticidal soaps, and plant extracts like pyrethrins. These various organic chemical pesticides vary widely in efficacy, target pest species, application rates, and cost, and must be reviewed on an individual basis, for each crop type, production method, and target pests. These solutions remain the simplest way for farmers to switch to organic production methods as they utilize the same spraying equipment as traditional non-chemical pesticides and do not require additional worker training. However, many farmers are hesitant to switch over to this system due to the greatly reduced efficacy of these systems. Many of these pesticides are simply not as effective as their non-organic counterparts.
One type of organic crop protection which has increase in popularity over the last few decades is biological control. The biological control approach utilizes predatory insects and/or microbes to physically consume and control targeted pests. This requires not only identification of pest species effecting crops but also requires the identification, procurement and release of a predatory species which will predate the targeted pest. The chosen beneficial species must be able to survive and thrive in the humidity and temperature of the grow environment, in order for the beneficial species population to grow. Specialized labor is required to consistently scout the grow environment to spot and tag pest hot spots where beneficial insects will be deployed. Common beneficial insect species deployed include lady bugs, predatory mites, minute pirate bugs, and many more. Unfortunately this organic crop protection method does not synergize with the application of organic or non-organic chemical pesticides.
No-touch organic, also called beyond organic, is a growing movement among the general public, home gardeners, and farmers alike. This movement demands not only produce which is free from non-organic chemical residue and systemic pesticides but produce which is entirely free of any pesticidal residue on and in produce. The consumers seeking no residue beyond organic produce reject the idea that organic pesticides are non-harmful or less harmful than their non-organic counterparts. This is requiring innovative new crop protection systems and is creating a shift in farmers’ and gardeners’ approaches to crop protection. Due to this shift in crop protection, farmers and gardeners are discovering that once they begin beyond organic production they can capitalize on easier marketability of produce, command drastically higher prices, and even in some cases reduce their crop protection expenses by cutting out chemical purchasing and chemical application labor.
Biological controls are sometimes claimed as a no-touch organic solution, and while farmers can get away with this claim in certain markets, this is not actually the case. Biological control insects do not spontaneously leave the plant upon harvesting, even after washing and processing some will remain. Consumers are likely to receive produce with predatory insects, which for many consumers is a deal-breaker for organic purchasing from your farm. Even if no beneficial biological control insects remain, their discarded exoskeletons, waste, and decaying bodies may be present, allowing for bacterial growth on produce.
True no-touch beyond organic solutions include certain versions of IPM best-practice systems, and, crucially for reducing input costs while also increasing value and marketability of produce, include the advanced pesticidal light treatment systems provided by IntraLight.
IntraLight Light Treatments
The IntraLight pesticidal light treatment system is the final alternative to chemical pesticides we will discuss here. The IntraLight pesticidal light treatment system is an array of light treatment units. Each unit regularly applies a burst of wide spectrum pesticidal lighting every 24 hours, targeting a broad array of pests and pathogens. Utilizing LED technology combined with short bursts of pesticidal light treatments 24 hours apart, the IntraLight units achieve a lifespan of many years. Learn more about IntraLight’s technology here.
This long lifespan of the IntraLight solution, combined with the single upfront cost and one-time installation of the IntraLight system makes it by far the most cost-effective alternative to chemical pesticides. This system removes consistent costs associated with other crop protection alternatives. No consistent purchasing of organic pesticides or biological controls is required. No continued labor expenses for pesticide application, scouting and biologics selection/application are required.
With one upfront purchase of an IntraLight pesticidal light treatment system and a single installation, the system will automatically protect your crops from pests and pathogens, remove significant crop protection expenses, and drastically increase the value and marketability of produce as an alternative to chemical pesticides that is not only an organic but a beyond organic, no-touch, zero residue solution. Preorder now and stay ahead of the competition.