Natural barriers: Integrated pest and disease management

Hello gardeners! In today’s article we are going to learn some control methods, such as natural barriers , to prevent pests and diseases from entering our gardens.

What is integrated pest management?

In past articles we talked about Integrated Pest Management (IPM) . I remind you that Integrated Pest Management is a control strategy that basically consists of the rational application of the combination of measures, so that there is a minimum use of phytosanitary products.

For the implementation of this management, certain measures must be applied, which are:

  • PREVENTION. Prevention measures consist of using healthy plant material, properly managing the crop, keeping the soil clean, and avoiding introductions of other crops.
  • APPROPRIATE FIGHTING METHODS. We have different fighting methods that I will explain a little later (physical, mechanical, cultural, legal, biotechnical, biological control, …)
  • SURVEILLANCE MEASURES. They allow us to control whether the fighting methods are being effective.

Of all the methods of struggle that exist, today we want to give a special role to natural barriers.

Natural barriers against pests

The natural barriers  are based on placing physical barriers to prevent pests reach crops. The barriers can be formed by adventitious plants that host natural enemies or aromatic plants that repel certain pests . It is a very effective method of control since it does not require the use of any phytosanitary product.

Example of insect repellent aromatic plants:

Aphids: honeysuckle, lupine, foxglove, mint or nettles.

Whitefly: calendula, Chinese carnations, tobacco or basil.

Nematodes: marigolds or marigolds.

Mosquitoes: basil, citronella or jasmine.

It is also effective to surround the beds of lettuce or other leafy vegetables with  ash or sawdust, preventing snails and slugs from reaching them. Another solution is to put  mulch or mulch  to make it difficult for pests such as the potato beetle to access the soil and affect the crop.

Other methods of integrated pest management

1. Mechanical methods

We know as mechanical methods those direct or indirect methods of capturing or killing insects immediately. They can be manual or tool methods.

  • Insect collection : consists of collecting insects manually that can be located in the different parts of our plants. For example, the potato beetle in the leaves, worms in the fruits, tortrícidos in the shoots or soil insects.
  • Debarking: It consists of removing the bark where the pest is located to eliminate the winter forms and make it difficult to reproduce.
  • Water: It is based on washing the plants with water (or with a natural solution that we prepare) to eliminate insects and damaged fruits.
  • Artificial shelters to capture pests .

2. Physical methods

A physical method is used when any physical characteristic of the environment is modified (temperature, humidity, light, …) that is unfavorable for the pest.

  • Changes in temperature
  • Humidity modification
  • Alteration of the atmosphere
  • Meshes (nets, mosquito nets, …)
  • Light traps
  • Sounds Sounds of very high intensity (between 140-160 dB) can kill insects and those between 100-130 dB can repel some animals such as birds.
  • Chromatic traps
  • Insecticidal paints

3. Cultural methods

  • Crop rotation
  • Work
  • Sanitation (remove the remains of attacked crops, pruning remains, …)
  • Trap crops
  • Crop diversity
  • Study sowing and harvesting times

4. Resistant varieties

Plant resistance to insects is the ability of a variety to grow and produce economically despite the presence of the pest. In this way, the plant can alter the development of the insect. The pest dies or looks for another host plant.

5. Biological control methods

Biological control consists of using living organisms to control pests. Organisms used for biological control are called “natural enemies.” An example of these natural enemies are ladybugs (which feed on aphids) and spiders.

6. Biotechnical methods

They do not cause the immediate death of a pest but they modify some physiological process or alter its form of communication. The most used biotechnical methods are:

  • Pheromones
  • Attractants and Repellents  (essential oils, food attractants, …)

7. Chemical control

Chemical control, despite continuing to be the most widely used method in the world, should be avoided whenever possible since it poses risks to agriculture (Phytotoxicity, resistance, side effects …), to the environment (on fauna, soil and water pollution) and for human health.

8. Legal measures

Legal measures are mandatory requirements imposed by the government for the control of pests and diseases. To do this, it uses systems such as quarantine, inspection, eradication or regulation of crops.

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