ORGANIC PLANT PROTECTION
DR. L. ZANONI of Bio Cultura
HELGA DIETRICH of OFGS
Throughout the world the consumer demands a drastic reduction of chemicals! Why? Every day more and more evidence is brought forward which seems to prove that the high concentration of toxins in our bodies is responsible for, not only the enormous increase of allergies of all types, but these toxins seem to deplete our bodies in many respects which then weaken our system, destabalises our metabolism and make us more vulnerable for other diseases. Not much attention seems to be paid to the fact that more than 50% of our new born babies are already born with some form of an allergy; bronchitis, asthma or other disorders which were uncommon 20/30 years ago. One asks oneself what is causing this weakening and couldn't the answer be : we are what we eat. If everything we eat and drink contains chemicals and residues from fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides we must ask - how can our environment and the health of its population improve ? The answer: Less toxins meaning more organic farming. Plant Protection on an organic basis.
More and more consumers here and abroad are looking for organically grown vegetables, fruits, herbs, potatoes, grapes, raisins etc. Especially abroad there is a huge demand which at present cannot be satisfied anymore by the existing suppliers. Locally the number of consumers looking for organically grown produce is increasing, but percentage wise in comparison to the rest of the industrialised world this number is still low, because too little education work is being done in this regard..
These new market possibilities, especially in export, offer vast advantages: South Africa is regarded as a country with little pollution and since the abolition of apartheid its products receive much attention and sympathy from the consumers abroad. Demands for organically grown produce are increasing steadily. It therefore is easy to secure your market share. Organic farming is not more expensive than conventional farming, on the contrary, after the initial phase it costs less and brings more as the prices reached for organically grown produce are still between 15-30% higher than conventional produce. Very important: The consumer of organically grown produce fully accepts the fact that this produce on the outside often looks of lesser quality, but the consumer knows that inside he gets a much higher quality.
We do need to change our export policies so that produce carried i.e. in Germany under 'Handelsklasse 2' (organically grown) is allowed to be exported from South Africa. Initial discussions have already been held with Unifruco and the Deciduous Fruit Board, Capespan, Nietvoorbij, Universities etc.
The EEC regulations number 2092/91 stipulates the production norms for organic farming and regulates the non chemical plant protection products. It also stipulates the inspection of organic farming enterprises and their yearly control . Only these agricultural enterprises which comply to these requirements are entitled to carry their EEC registration number and label as an organic farmer. This label could read: Aus kontrolliertem Bio-Anbau (from controlled organic production), Naturgemaesser Anbau, Organisch Angebaut
This overwhelmingly strong demand in Europe for organically grown products by the consumer has initiated the producers of conventional products such as chemical fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides over the last years to develop a range of environmentally friendly fertilisers and plant protectors. This was necessary as an answer, not only to the diminishing sales figures for their chemical products, but
also to the most successful upsurge of new companies concentrating fully on totally environmental friendly products for organic agriculture.
In the appendix of the EEG regulation 2092/91 ingredients permitted under this new law are listed. Further detailed information concerning these products are provided at the end of this Article. Only these products can be used in organic farming. In this type of plant protection we have to consider a new strategic approach:
Prevention and Strengthening
All of these plant protection compounds are based on preventative action as they support the natural resistance of the plants. Only correctly nourished, strengthened plants in a biological environment, optimally nurtured, are less susceptible to plant diseases and pests. For this purpose a wide variety of different plant and soil strengthening substances are available. All of these are based on natural components, whether these are horsetail preparations with a high silicic acid content or stinging nettle liquid manure for growth enhancement and chlorophyll formation of the leaves, the penac-products, neem products as plant protectors and at the same time as resistance against plant lice etc, or rock flower with a high trace element content, which act to prevent fungal diseases. But also seaweed extracts, rich in organic substances, mineral substances and trace elements, increase the resistance to pests. Diatomaceous earth improves the quality of the soil and increases the resistance to insects and fungi.
The organic farmer also sprays. The spraying substances contain natural ingredients (provided they are not GM). Products such as lecithin, which is obtained from Soya plants, can be sprayed against powdery mildew (Oidium), not later than the beginning of infestation, at 7 to 14 day intervals. Also various preparation combinations consisting of extracts of Sulphur, argillaceous earth and horsetail have adequate results.
All products have been scientifically tested and showed partially the same results as the substances of chemical origin.
Using natural enemies
Natural enemies are more and more used selectively to combat pests. For this purpose these are bred and propagated systematically. Many companies have made valuable efforts in this area and nowadays offer a wide variety to organic farming.
As an example
To combat the fruit maggot, for example, a natural pathogen, the so-called codling moth granulose virus, can be introduced (e.g. Madex).
As soon as the apple moth lays its eggs on the small apples in the early summer, the product is sprayed. The hatching larvae take up the viruses from the surface of the apple and die before they can bore into the apple. This virus works exclusively against the fruit maggot. Useful insects and other organisms are not harmed. After a few days the viruses die. A healthier, stronger apple, which is not weakened by chemical substances, ripens.
In the same way bacteria (Bazillus thuringensis) could be applied against caterpillars, and nematodes against the thick beak weevil larvae.
Something which is entirely new is a snail combatting substance. These are also nematodes which are divided over the surface by means of field sprays, where they immediately track down snails to attack them.
Scientific experiments show that these products are efficient. With all of these products it is of course essential that they be applied exactly according to the application requirements. This calls for a farmer who observes carefully and has the ability to decide when exactly corrective measures should be introduced.
Soaps, Pyrethrum, Oils
A series of new products against plant lice, white flies and spider mites has soft soap as basic active substance. For insects poisonous active substances are then
mixed in, for example quassia, an extract of tropical bitterwood or rhododendron (Derris) which has its origin in the roots of tropical legumes. The soft-skinned harmful insects are then decomposed. Useful insects are not harmed.
Another substance against sucking insects and harmful caterpillars is pyrethrum. This active substance is obtained from the blossoms of the chrysanthemum. It has a very wide active spectrum and therefore is poisonous to many useful insects. For this reason one should not use this substance over the entire surface, but selectively treat areas where the pest is concentrated.
In the case of fruit and berries plant lice, scale lice, spider mites and other harmful insects which have over wintered can be sprayed with a thin film of paraffin and rape oil during spring at the time of budding. In this way the oxygen supply is stopped and consequently the pests cannot multiply at all.
The new N range of OFGS will combat most of these problems successfully (see OFGS)
Less chemistry, more of nature
This is the motto of the new plant protection generation. This trend has also been acknowledged by leading firms in the chemical branch. Today the large companies utilise 5% of the research budget for the development of plant protection substances on a biological, not chemical, basis.
Home-made plant protection substances
Home-made plant protection is possible. To a certain extent the active substances can be cultivated in the form of herbs according to need on your own farm and mixed with additional purchased substances like soaps, rock flower and seaweed powder. The result is an effective combination at a favorable price. A further presently very important advantage is that these products do not have to be imported at very expensive foreign exchange rates. Apart from the positive effect in the business field, the production of these plant protection substances also has a positive effect on the economy. With a reduction in imports one saves on foreign exchange. This leads to the creation of additional jobs in rural areas. and equally important: we are exporting agricultural products - products that are in accordance with the current biologically orientated consumer trend.
Examples of biological plant treatment substances
Fungicides (against fungal diseases)
Rock flow, argillacious earth, sulphur extracts
Insecticides (against pests)
Caterpillars on cabbage types
Potato beetle larvae
Plant lice, spider mites, scale lice
Thick beak weevil larvae
Plant lice, potato beetle, spider mites,
Plant lice, white flies, spider mites
Plant lice, white flies, spider mites
Useful insects against pests
Predatory mites (Amblyseins cucumeris)
Fennel oil, silica
Sulphur, argillacious earth, horsetail extract
Rock flow, argillacious earth, sulphur extracts
Codling moth granulose virus
Trade marks/ companies
Biofa, Dr. Schätte
Biofa, Dr. Schätte, Sano Bio Plant
Bio insecticide Maag
Madex 2, Andermatt
For further information please contact us