Biocontrol and biopesticides: Environmentally friendly natural pest control

A plant doctor kneels over a yellow bucket of natural pesticides being promoted by CABI Plantwise Plant Doctors to farmers in Cambodia

In light of climate change and its effects, environmentally friendly pest control has become increasingly attractive.

Pesticides can be effective, to grow more and lose less. But they can also kill beneficial organisms. They can be poisonous and leave a toxic residue that seep into the soil. They can upset carefully balanced ecosystems in which plants grow. Pesticide residues can run off into water sources like lakes and rivers and damage wildlife.

Using natural biocontrol products to protect ecosystems

However, it is possible to control pests effectively without using harmful pesticides. Growers are now turning to environmentally friendly pest control. This includes biological control – also known as biocontrol, bioprotectants or bioprotection.

Biocontrols are natural products. They include a range of eco-friendly products such as biopesticides and macrobials. Biopesticides are micro-organisms, pheromones and natural substances like plant oils. While macrobials include invertebrate “biocontrol agents” – predatory insects and mites.

Importantly, biological control can control pests without damaging ecosystems. Biocontrols co-evolve with the surrounding nature. They manage pests without disturbing biodiversity and don’t harm beneficial organisms. This includes insects such as ladybirds, mites and pollinators like bees.

Another significant advantage of eco-friendly biological controls is that they degrade quickly. If they have any adverse effects on the environment – and few do – they are temporary.

The delicate balance of the natural world is fundamental to all life on Earth. Biocontrols could be a solution to maintaining this balance.

Farmers and growers could see benefit from using biocontrols. Nature-based solutions will not have a negative impact on the environment, producing healthier crops. Long term, using natural solutions makes agriculture more sustainable – safeguarding the industry.

A plant doctor kneels over a yellow bucket of natural pesticides being promoted by CABI Plantwise Plant Doctors to farmers in Cambodia