It’s astonishing how fast we have evolved as a society. Science and technology move at such a mind-boggling pace, and somehow we may have forgotten how helpful nature can be. Josh, our head grower, relentlessly researches and works with manufacturers of natural pest control methods. It’s an exciting time here at Chippewa Valley Growers as we employ biologicals as pesticide alternatives!
Science and the evolution of it have been the source of incredible advances that have changed the face of the world that we live in. Some of these changes have been seen in the evolution of how crops are raised. While chemicals and pesticides have helped rid crops of pests and increased production, there have also been a few unintended consequences such as allergies and illnesses.
Today, we think we have a better grip on understanding the negative impacts of harsh chemicals. But we are a “now” people and still want our crops to grow microwave fast, look as perfect as the plastic fruit on grandma’s coffee table, and have an overwhelming assortment of all of it (even when it’s out of season.)
So how in the world do we balance safety with productivity?
In comes the increased curiosity in the use of biologicals.
Biologicals are using the resources nature has afforded us to combat harmful pests, increase the health of a crop, and assist in growing the yield. The process uses chemicals and live organisms found in nature – essentially reversing our standard operating procedures. This means that instead of using chemicals as the first line of defense, growers can use biologicals as the first step in prevention and then bring manufactured chemicals in as a secondary assist.
Rewind back to elementary science and we all remember learning about circles of life, predators, and prey. Well, when thinking of biologicals, it is a very similar process. Everything, including pests, has a natural enemy.
Let’s take the despised cabbage moth for example. Terrible pests for your garden but a beloved snack for a bird. Now it would be a little aggressive for us to bring in a flock of seagulls (Grammy-winning or otherwise) into the greenhouse to help combat the issue. But, we could consider another pest such as a nematode (a small, worm-like organism that you find in soil and is harmless to plants) that can wreak havoc on the cabbage moth.
As much as we all want to see great productivity above ground, what happens below the topsoil is what sets the stage for success, longevity, and productivity in a plant. A solid, healthy root system will give a plant the best possibility to flourish. By increasing the roots ability to access nutrients, we will be able to see an increase in plant growth.
A key biological that can work to improve this is a bacteria called rhizobacteria. Not the penicillin or echinacea kind of bacteria, think probiotics in this case – these are the good type of bacteria.
When applied early, this bacteria gathers around the roots like chains on a tire (is the snow over yet??) and helps collect much-needed nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and essential minerals.
So what does this mini science class mean for Chippewa Valley Growers’ customers? It means we commit to making the best use of nature’s products in an effort to eliminate or strongly curb the use of chemicals that can be harmful to humans, pets, and the environment.
Since 2018, we have been making significant investments to implement a full-fledged Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program utilizing the biological approach. After much planning and consulting in 2018, we have advanced the process in 2019 and committed fully to using biologicals in all of our greenhouses.
We are having fun learning and utilizing this approach and it is exciting to offer the exceptional end results to our family of customers.
Add biologicals to the list of things to chat about with us the next time you come in!
If you want to learn more about which pests would win in a street fight or to learn more about what is happening at our Emerald City, please sign up to join our email list.
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