The growing trend to eat organic food and preference for natural or environmentally friendly products has affected almost all sectors of the economy. There is the belief that organic products are safer, which is why even farmers are gravitating towards organic pest control methods. Since the green movement began, there have been debates as to whether organic pest control is better than chemical control. Which one is better?
Organic pest control
This encompasses a wide range of pest control methods which include biological pest control and use of natural pesticides. Biological control is effective and typically doesn't cause environmental contamination. It involves introducing parasites, pathogens or natural predators of a pest to an area that is infested with pests. This approach has distinct benefits in that it's chemical-free, and the farmer doesn't need to worry about food contamination. Its disadvantages are that the farmer is introducing a predator or pathogen with unforeseen consequences.
Other organic control methods include biopesticides which are derived from living things, microbial pesticides, plant-incorporated protectants, pyrethrins and biochemical pesticides.
Chemical pest control
Pesticides have been around for more than a millennium, but synthetic compounds didn't emerge until the 1940s. Since then, regulatory agencies have tested and analysed these synthetic compounds to determine which compounds are less toxic. This is why regulatory agencies recommend that farmers learn about pesticides before using them.
Chemical pesticides are classified into different categories based on how they function. For example, contact pesticides kill pests by shortly after coming into contact with their bodies while systemic pesticides tend to target specific areas of the body. There are also desiccants which remove water from the plants or pests and insect growth regulators that interfere with the growth cycle by killing the insect larvae.
Which method is better?
Both chemical and organic pest control methods are effective. Chemical control methods tend to act faster since they are chemically enhanced. Organic or natural pesticides will also work, but it takes longer to achieve the desired result. They also require multiple applications, which is why farmers prefer chemical control as it's quicker and typically requires only one application. Organic control is better in that it's environmentally friendly.
However, some situations necessitate the use of chemical control over organic control. This may be the case if pests attack a crop and the farmers risk incurring a massive loss if they don't act fast. It would take days or even weeks before organic pest control methods can kill all the pests. Chemical control is more effective in such situations.
Ultimately, chemical pest control methods are necessary to sustain the country's food needs.