Interest in nonchemical pest control has increased over the past several years. To some people, this means the same as “organic farming,” which implies nature’s way. But in a new publication, MSU Extension talks about controlling pests without chemicals, or at least fewer chemicals. This approach does have some limitations. Here are some of them:
- The problem area needs more personal attention.
- Nonchemical control is hard work, so it may be better for small areas. This depends on the available labor supply.
- In some years, you may suffer more damage than you thought you would, including more loss of produce or plants.
- There are some pests (insects, weeds, or pathogens) for which effective nonchemical management methods are not available.
When planning a nonchemical management program, keep in mind that the climate that allows crops to grow also benefits insects, weeds, and pathogens. Mississippi’s climate ranges from semitropical on the Gulf Coast to temperate for the rest of the state. This gives the state a range of 200 to 250 growing days per year. These conditions, along with high humidity, are ideal for the development of a wide range of insects, weeds, and pathogens. For these reasons, be cautious about using information developed in northern states or in the hot, dry climate of the Southwest.
During the planning stages, be careful about information on nonchemical control in popular magazines and newspapers. Writers often report on only a few observations. For example, if a grower reports having one tomato plant where he successfully used wood ashes to control aphids, question whether aphids would have been a problem without using ashes. Personal experiences are good, but respected tests in your farming area mean more.Click here for the full guide.