Pesticides. They’re sold as the cure-all for farming nuisances from bugs to diseases. But in reality, pesticides are far from a silver bullet solution for safe and productive agriculture.
Generally speaking, pesticides are substances used in agriculture to control unwanted plant or animal life. They encompass substances used to repel weeds (herbicides), bugs (insecticides), mold (fungicides) and bacteria (disinfectants). These harmful organisms can be managed through various chemical and biological means that are man-made or natural.
Synthetic pesticides have been particularly integral to food production since the green revolution. However, there is a dark side to these chemicals.
Overuse of conventional pesticides is a global health issue. Nearly 300,000 deaths each year can be attributed to poisoning from chemical pesticides. Not only that, but synthetic pesticides have been linked to chronic illnesses such as respiratory and reproductive disorders, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases, and certain cancers. Children are particularly susceptible to the toxic effects of pesticides.
In addition to health effects, the financial costs of pesticides are also rising. With the elevated price of pesticides economically, medically and environmentally, farmers are seeking alternatives to control organisms detrimental to plant health.
Pesticide-free agriculture is the underrated solution for farmers who want a safer and more sustainable means of food production. It primarily involves eliminating chemical pesticide use in food production.
Getting rid of pesticides altogether is no easy task. It’s an ambitious goal that requires a comprehensive combination of strategies and technologies.
Following the main principles of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) — prevention, monitoring and application — is a great place to start. First, use cultivation and hygiene techniques, such as pruning and regularly cleaning equipment, to help prevent infestation. If an infection occurs, use technological tools to monitor the harmful organisms and decide whether action needs to be taken.
While IPM permits the limited application of synthetic chemicals to control pests, pesticide-free agriculture takes environmentally friendly pest management one step further. The pesticide-free approach relies solely on sustainable physical, biological and other non-chemical controls to eliminate harmful organisms.
Pesticide-free agriculture is highly compatible with indoor plant cultivation. There is inherently less risk and exposure to insects, diseases and other pests in an enclosed setting than with conventional farming. Vertical farming and hydroponics are both conducive growing methods for implementing pesticide-free food production.
One major upside to doing away with pesticides — you are well on your way to qualifying for organic status, which means higher profit margins for your farming operation.
Growing organic goes hand-in-hand with pesticide-free agriculture. Limited chemical pesticide use is one of the key stipulations for organic food items. The techniques used to eradicate chemical pesticides can be combined with those of closed-loop agriculture for efficient and effective organic crop cultivation.
Pesticide-free agriculture is no longer just a preference. The European Commission’s Sustainable Use of Pesticides Directive mandates member states to reduce their chemical pesticide use by 50% by 2030. In the near future, farmers in the European Union will need to utilize more natural plant protection methods.
As it turns out, the true pests of agriculture are the harmful chemicals we have been adding to our food. Synthetic chemical pesticides damage human health and the environment. Fortunately, there is a straightforward solution.
The safest option for farmers, the community, and buyers is to go pesticide-free. Take back your autonomy in the growing process and prioritize your well-being with indoor and organic pesticide-free food production.