Usage of pesticides and herbicides has been a long-running practice among farmers in order to reduce damage to their crop. While using pesticides and herbicides may reduce the damage to crops, the long-term effects to the land, flora, and fauna in the immediate and surrounding vicinities of the farmland. Many pesticides and herbicides do not discriminate in their target organisms, which can result in the loss of biodiversity. This can ultimately lead to the extinction of non-target species.
There is also the matter of bioaccumulation caused by the non-perishable chemicals used in pesticides and herbicides. As many chemicals tend to seep into the groundwater or are washed into nearby water sources, they can get polluted and over time be unsafe to consume. With the increased use of pesticides, scientists have found the links between pesticide use and the resulting effect on people’s health.
Reducing pesticide use
Many biological methods have been introduced to farmers around the world in an effort to minimize the usage of pesticides. One such method is crop rotation. Many pests have a predilection for specific crops.
The rotation of crops will ensure that the pests do not have a steady supply of food, which allows them to thrive. When rotating crops, farmers can alternate planting their main crop with soil nutrient replenishing plants such as legumes. This ensures the fertility of the soil and reduces the need to use fertilizers to increase crop yield.
Another method that works well in combating pests in farms is the usage of the natural predators of pests. Many endemic species are natural enemies of many pests on farms. Birds, insects, spiders, and reptiles have been known to prey upon the crop pests.
As stated above, the indiscriminate nature of pesticides and herbicides can, unfortunately, kill these beneficial organisms alongside crop pests. It is important to understand the significance that these natural predators have in terms of reducing pest populations while preserving the ecosystem.
Integrated Pest Management
In recent years, the discovery of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) led to a gradual shift in the pest control techniques of farmers. IPM is an environmentally friendly method that benefits both the farmer and the ecosystem. With IPM, various biological methods are applied in an effort to prevent pests.
Methods such as crop rotation, introducing disease fighting microbes into the soil, sterile male technique and biological control agents such as owls and ladybugs are used concurrently, which reduces the need for chemical pesticides. As more and more farmers adopt this method, the projected result is the gradual decline in the usage of pesticides.
Using green methods in maintaining the health of crops is not something new. Before the introduction of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, our forefathers have been implementing many, if not all the techniques stated above in order to preserve the health of their crops. Perhaps it is time to forsake the results of modernization in an effort to protect the environment we all live in.