Evidence that organic farming can enhance pest control

Meta-analysis : organic agriculture promotes biological pest control and reduces pathogen and insect infestation compared to conventional farming using synthetic pesticides

You always wanted to know if organic farming promotes biological control and experiences higher levels of pest infestations (pathogens, animal pests and weeds) ? Check out Adrien Rusch, Muneret lucile, Verena Seufert new study via NatureSustainability – FREE full access here.

Organic farms have more weeds than conventional farms, but less disease and similar levels of insect pests, despite using no synthetic pesticides.

> So why do we need pesticides?
> Can we close the yield gap without them?

says Lynn Dicks, Research Fellow at University of East Anglia, 17 Jul 2018.

2018 Meta-Analysis Abstract

Ecological intensification of agro-ecosystems, based on the optimization of ecological functions such as biological pest control, to replace agrochemical inputs is a promising route to reduce the ecological footprint of agriculture while maintaining commodity production. However, the performance of organic farming, often considered as a prototype of ecological intensification, in terms of pest control remains largely unknown.

Here, using two distinct meta-analyses, we demonstrate that, compared to conventional cropping systems,

  1. organic farming promotes overall biological pest control potential,
  2. organic farming has higher levels of overall pest infestations
  3. but that this effect strongly depends on the pest type.

Our study, Evidence that organic farming promotes pest control, shows that there are lower levels of pathogen infestation, similar levels of animal pest infestation and much higher levels of weed infestation in organic than in conventional systems.

This study provides evidence that organic farming can enhance pest control and suggests that organic farming offers a way to reduce the use of synthetic pesticide for the management of animal pests and pathogens without increasing their levels of infestation.

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