What are the advantages of using biological control in agricultural production?

In addition, in many cases, the benefits of using natural enemies accrue at no additional cost. Biological control is the use of living organisms to suppress pest populations, making them less harmful than they would otherwise be. Biological control can be used against all types of pests, including vertebrates, plant and weed pathogens, as well as against insects, but the methods and agents used are different for each type of pest. This publication will focus on biological control of insects and related organisms.

Biocontrol, short for biological control, is the management of a pest, typically an invasive species, by introducing a natural predator into the environment. Biocontrol reduces the pest population and its impacts on the environment. Natural enemies are an environmentally friendly alternative to pesticides that are often used to control invasive species. Biocontrol is sustainable and long-term; the biggest cost to control an introduced species is research that involves determining the safety and efficacy of a biocontrol agent.

Therefore, biocontrol can be cost-effective in the long term. The Biological Insect Control Laboratory at the University of Rhode Island has many ongoing biocontrol projects targeting invasive species in Rhode Island to help reduce the ecological and social impacts of pests. More information on the control of declared plants can be found in the link to the declared plant control manual. The signatory countries have accepted the obligation to prevent the introduction and control of alien species that threaten indigenous ecosystems and habitats.

In a research project, Hanna Friberg, from the Department of Forest Mycology and Plant Pathology, examines how biological control can be used to overcome cork root rot in organic tomato cultivation. The biological pesticide is called Rotstop and prevents Heterobasidion from spreading and causing root rot in spruce and pine populations. It is estimated that classical biological control applies to 350 Mha worldwide (10% of the land under cultivation; J. However, as a starting point, it might be more efficient to focus first on changes within crop systems that could increase natural pest control.

In the early stages of development, biological need control mainly followed a “trial and error” approach. As a result, pest control research became a highly reductionist activity and went from being an important decision-making exercise in pest management to a routine but initially successful activity of the fire department. In addition, the introduction of new crops (such as soybeans in Central Europe) and consumer demand for “stain-free” products have contributed to an overreliance on chemical control, with the well-described consequences of pest resistance, uneconomical production costs, bioaccumulation through food chains, environmental pollution, biodiversity loss and risks to human health. The costs of using biological control are now much lower in Europe than using chemical control for insect pests.

In forestry, biological control is used, for example, to reduce attacks of Heterobasision annosum, a pest that causes losses in forestry of between 50 and 100 million euros per year. The increase refers to all forms of biological control where natural enemies are periodically introduced and generally requires commercial production of the released agents (van Lenteren 2000b). This strategy was adopted by producers due to the prevalence of insecticide resistance in many greenhouse pests and the increased costs of chemical control. Instead, the idea is to use biological agents, such as a pesticide, to release them in quantities that bring down the pest population.

An example of an established population of a pathogenic insect that has been successfully controlling its host is the fungus Entomophaga maimaiga, a gypsy moth pathogen. .

Emmett Holsinger
Emmett Holsinger

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