May 11, 2016

Depositphotos_87804354_m-2015_tomato_hornworm-240x240 - article 39What are biopesticides and how are they used? How do they differ from synthetic pesticides for the health of your plants? In this blog post, we’ll answer a few basic questions about these important biochemicals.

What are biopesticides?

Biopesticides are materials with pesticidal properties that originate from natural living organisms, including microorganisms, plants, and animals. There are three major classes that biopesticides fall into:

Microbial pesticides: These biopesticides are produced by microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses, and certain fungi. Each type of microbial pesticide targets a specific species or small group of species. It is common that microbial pesticides control a large variety of pests.

Biochemical/herbal pesticides: These are substances naturally occurring in the environment that control pests. This could include plant extracts that lure and trap insects or insect pheromones that interfere with mating.  It may include botanical extractions that are active against plant disease pathogens and other pests.

Plant-Incorporated Protectants (PIPs): These pesticides are produced from plants as a result of another genetically incorporated material added to that plant (aka GM crops). While this application of pesticides originates from natural material, it also interferes with the natural biochemistry of the target organism and is thus widely contested.

As a natural pesticide choice, natural microbial and biochemical pesticides are the type commonly used by farmers and growers to control an existing pest problem, because they can be applied like synthetic pesticides but without the toxic damage. Here at Soil Technologies Corp., we utilize natural microbial and biochemical pesticides in our products to effectively target pests in an environmentally sound way. Let’s focus a little more on these types of biopesticides and how they work.

Microbial and biochemical pesticides are increasingly used as soil amendments or seed treatments that will target the necessary area of the plant. When microorganisms are added to the soil/plant complex they release families of biochemical molecules to a targeted environment, such as the surface of the leaf or stem or in the root rhizosphere. The pesticidal properties of the microbial biochemical excretions then aid the plant in its affected areas.

The most widely used microbial pesticide are types of the bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis or Bt. Each strain of bacterium produces different proteins that are toxic to certain insects, specifically targeting insect larvae.

Naturally derived materials such as copper, baking soda, sesame oil, clove oil, rosemary oil and canola oil are also considered biopesticides.

Advantages of biopesticides

So why use biopesticides when you can buy other synthetic pesticides anywhere? For one, biopesticides have simply been known and understood for millions of years. This means that plants are well familiar with and responsive to biopesticides, without major adverse side effects.  Also, natural microbial and biochemical materials are common to our global ecology and are easily processed in our ecology with minimal probability of environmental imbalance.

This is the significant difference from synthetic pesticides. Plants and other living organisms are not accustomed or responsive to synthetic molecules, and this unfamiliarity results in rejection or negative reaction and side effects. The plant doesn’t know how to store these synthetic chemicals, so its cells can become cancerous, growing abnormally and causing mistakes in normal biological function.

Biopesticides also show a number of other advantages over synthetic pesticides, including:

More renewable

  • Biodegradable
  • Can be more effective in the long-term
  • Effective in small quantities and quickly decompose, avoiding pollution, which is a major problem with synthetic pesticides
  • Can be less expensive
  • Affect only targeted pests, unlike broad spectrum synthetic pesticides that can take effect on other unintended insects, birds, and mammals, including humans
  • Have a host of natural compounds which may be active against disease and pest, thus minimizing the capacity of pathogenic and invasive organisms to adapt to the molecules, thus rendering them ineffective

In short, biopesticides prove to be a predictable and less toxic form of pest control compared to the less predictable and more toxic conventional synthetic pesticides.

At Soil Technologies Corp., we’ve been producing natural agricultural products for more than 30 years. We understand the chemistry behind pesticidal materials and how plants respond to them. This is why we’ve created products that use the power of biopesticides to control pests and help plants thrive from year to year.

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