How do you know biologicals are right for you and your farm?

My guest today is Ron Geis. He comes to us with more than 40-years of experience in farming and agriculture. Listen in as we discuss biologicals. A solution to crop protection that is approved for organic farming in some cases. By definition these products have been around for many years, but with recent advances in development and challenges to bring synthetic crop protection to market we are seeing more companies develop products that meet the “biologicals” definition.

Biologicals have gained attention as a sustainable alternative to conventional crop protection methods. These products utilize living organisms or their derivatives to control pests and diseases. While biologicals offer several advantages, they also present certain challenges not the least of which is coverage and storage.

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One of the significant advantages of biologicals is their environmentally friendly nature. They often have low or no toxic residues, reducing harm to beneficial organisms, humans, and ecosystems. Moreover, biologicals typically have a favorable safety profile, posing minimal risks to applicators. Another benefit is their compatibility with integrated pest management (IPM) strategies, promoting a holistic and sustainable approach to crop protection. Biologicals can help preserve natural enemies of pests, reducing the reliance on synthetic insecticides.
Additionally, biologicals offer efficacy against specific pests, targeting them with precision while minimizing impacts on non-target organisms. They can exhibit long-lasting effects, persisting in the environment and providing sustained pest control. Furthermore, some biologicals can enhance plant growth and improve soil health by promoting beneficial microbial activity and nutrient availability.

Despite their merits, biologicals have limitations. One challenge is their variability in performance due to environmental conditions. Factors such as temperature, humidity, and pH can affect the efficacy of biologicals, making their effectiveness less predictable compared to conventional methods. Additionally, biologicals often require specific application techniques and timing, demanding careful monitoring and expertise. Another drawback is their limited spectrum of control. Biologicals may be effective against specific pests or diseases but less so against others, necessitating complementary approaches for comprehensive crop protection. Moreover, biologicals can be more expensive than conventional chemicals, affecting their economic feasibility for some farmers. Additionally, large-scale production and supply chain challenges may limit their availability and accessibility to farmers in certain regions.

Biologicals present several advantages in crop protection, such as environmental friendliness, compatibility with IPM, and targeted efficacy. However, challenges related to variability, limited control spectrum, application requirements, cost, and availability need to be addressed for their widespread adoption and successful integration into agricultural systems.