Sunday, January 01, 2012

Forget pesticides: Vineyards can use natural predation methods to control pests

by: Jonathan Benson

Conventional agriculture is heavily dependent on the use of chemical pesticides and herbicides to control pests and protect crops. But researchers from the University of California, Berkeley (UCB) have made an interesting discovery about natural predation that could eliminate the need for these synthetic pest management interventions in grape vineyards.

Predation is a natural pest management system based upon the idea that when there is a healthy balance between predator birds and their bug and insect prey, the predators will effectively manage the pests by killing and eating them. And as the predators continually feed on the pests, they will naturally thrive and perpetuate a healthy and continuous cycle of natural pest management.

But the use of man-made chemical and other artificial pest management systems has thwarted the predation balance by eliminating the pests before the predators can get to them -- and in some cases, these interventions also eliminate the predators. As a result, predator populations have declined, which has created an ever-worsening dependency on artificial pest management techniques to protect crops. Read more...

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