Friday, 30 November 2018 11:37

Don’t treat pests as a problem

Written by 
Pests are a symptom of an unsustainable farming method, says a visiting expert in ‘regenerative’ agriculture. Pests are a symptom of an unsustainable farming method, says a visiting expert in ‘regenerative’ agriculture.

Farmers should stop treating agricultural pests as a problem, and instead realise they are a symptom of an unsustainable farming method, says a visiting expert in ‘regenerative’ agriculture.

Dr Jonathan Lundgren, founder of Ecdysis Foundation and Blue Dasher Farm, visited New Zealand for an international workshop on conservation biological control of invertebrate pests, hosted by the Bio-Protection Research Centre at Lincoln University.

He told workshop participants that healthy ecosystems do not have the pest problems that are present in ‘monoculture’ agriculture.

“If you have a pest problem in your field, that’s your field telling you that something is out of whack. If all you are doing is reacting to a pest problem, then you are never going to get ahead; you’ve got to solve the underlying problem, not just the symptoms.”

The underlying problem is lack of biodiversity, Lundgren said. “The way we approach our food production is much too simplified.”

Instead, he said, regenerative agriculture solves pest problems and is more profitable.

Regenerative agriculture goes beyond sustainable agriculture by trying to regenerate degraded land and ecosystems rather than simply sustaining what is left. Farmers who follow regenerative methods use few if any pesticides, don’t till the land, practise crop and stock rotation that mimic natural processes, and encourage biodiversity.

Lundgren said one study found more diverse and more populous insect communities in cow dung from regenerative farms, including more predators of pest species (mostly flies).

 

More like this

Avoid the slippery downward spiral

Plant & Food Research’s Vaughn Bell has seen a lot of mealybugs in his time, but even he was stunned to see photos of infestations in Marlborough this past vintage.

Gun buy back a flop?

Farmers need access to centrefire, semi automatic rifles for killing pests, claims hunter Stewart Hydes.

From New Zealand to Canada

We in New Zealand can thank our lucky stars that the pests we have to deal with in our vineyards are limited to birds, rabbits and grass grubs. Spare a thought for our counterparts in Canada.

Harlequin Ladybird update

Native to Asia, the harlequin ladybird first arrived in Auckland, in 2016. Upon receiving notification of its arrival, MPI undertook an investigation and found it already too widespread for an eradication attempt to have any reasonable chance of success.

 
 

» The RNG Weather Report

» Latest Print Issues Online

Milking It

If it clucks is it vegan?

Is food vegan simply because it doesn’t come from a cow? This question has puzzled one in five Britons.

Swinging out the lifeboats?

The Fonterra shareholders council announced last week that elections will take place in 10 of its 25 wards.

» Connect with Dairy News