Organic pesticides have long been praised by supporters of organic cultivation methods. In recent years, however, there’s been an increase of concerns over their safety and efficiency. For most farmers, organic means better, healthier and safer. But essentially all pesticides are poison. Irrespective if they are derived from natural sources or synthetic.
No pesticide is the best pesticide
Paying attention to details and caring for your plants, you should be able to maintain a good crop without resorting to using pesticides at all. If you keep your plants neat and tidy and well-maintained; if you keep the grow room and environment clean; if you ensure the optimal growing conditions and focus on having healthy plants, it will be more than enough to ensure you’ll have an organic garden free from infestations.
Of course, there will be times when even the most experienced farmer could succumb to the burden of a spider mite or whitefly infestation. If this is the case, then it’s very important to be aware of the possible effects and consequences of the pesticides available out there.
Safe organic pesticides
One of the safest organic chemicals out there is insecticidal soap. The potassium-based fatty acids are the main active ingredient of these soaps. Harmless to bees, humans and domestic animals, they break down the cell membranes of soft-bodied insects such as aphids, spider mites, and whitefly. These soaps are not toxic to humans, but they can cause mild irritation when consumed. Also, they may cause plants to develop burn spots or patches on areas where they’ve been applied heavily.
Another relatively safe organic pesticide is Neem oil. It acts mostly as a repellent, while against various species of insect larvae is deadly. While it can cause mild toxicity in cats and dogs, for humans and honeybees it’s non-toxic.
BT, or more commonly known as Bacillus Thuringiensis, is a microbial insecticide that paralyzes the digestive system of many pest species. When it comes to insecticides, it’s probably the most important weapon in the organic gardener’s arsenal. Various strains of the BT bacteria have been bio-engineered to affect specific species. Due to this, there are no known long-term negative effects on the health of any non-targeted species.
Genetically engineered pesticides
Work has already been started on incorporating genetically engineered strains of BT into the DNA of high-value cash crops. The goal is to create plants that produce insecticide properties naturally. The idea behind these GM plants is to use the seeds, and create generations of plants that will have fully integrated the bio-defense mechanism in their genetic material.
This could negate the use of pesticides in the future, but questions regarding whether this could ever be seen as organic farming appear. This controversy comes due to the extensive degree of genetic modification. If it’s proven that these modifications are safe, a few other ethical reasons would still show up to dismiss this new biotechnology.
The main goal is to create and grow healthy, safe and high-yield plants with no harmful side effects to any part of the ecosystem. Gladly the technologies by which we do so are improving day by day. If you’re managing an organic garden, we recommend you’re up-to-date with every bit of current research, because our understanding of the processes involved is in constant change.
You can browse our GrowAce store for more technical info on pesticides here.
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