Monday, 31 October 2016

Sustainable Farming: Regulating the Use of Pesticides in Farms

Combating pests has been an age-long issue for farmers, including those that primarily grow forage for animal consumption. Over the years, the effort to ward off these organisms that feed on their crops have led to several innovations in farming and the introduction of pesticides.

Pesticides are chemicals used to protect plants from being damaged by weeds, fungi, or insects. It yields to tremendous benefits for farmers especially when it comes to quantity of crops produced. It has been an integral part in crop production as it reduces the risks of losses which can be caused by the aforesaid culprits.

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However, the excessive use of pesticides—particularly the artificial ones—can result in serious health problems among the farmers and the people around the farm. In addition to killing insects and bugs, it can also have an adverse effect on other organisms such as birds, fish, and non-target plants. Animals feeding on pesticide-treated fodder may also be adversely affected. Moreover, it can lead to soil and water contamination, if not poisoning.

In California, the Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) proposed to regulate the use of pesticide near schools and daycare centers. Aside from its aim to protect children and students, the regulation is also directed at increasing the communication between farmers and crop growers and schools to help facilitate better response to potential incidents.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, along with some university researchers, is now looking at ways to combat pests by introducing predatory bugs. In Missouri, garden stores are selling ladybugs to customers that can be released to eat the aphids that plague tomato plants.

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Ben Putler, professor emeritus of entomology at the University of Missouri-Columbia, is leading a group of researchers to look into testing natural predators for other agricultural pests that destroy hectares upon hectares of farmlands. Other farmers are also trying out a new approach on conventional ways to ward off pests and insects from their crops through chickens which feast on insects and worms invading their crops.

Geoffrey Morell offers tours and classes of his farm. He co-owns the P.A. Bowen Farmstead, alongside Sally Fallon Morell. For inquiries, follow this link.

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