Plant health in organic farming is managed mainly through preventive and indirect measures such as the choice of appropriate species and varieties adapted to local conditions, wider crop rotation, the enhancement of agro-biodiversity, the release of macrobials as well as mechanical and physical methods. Synthetic pesticides and fertilisers used in conventional farming are replaced in organic farming by strategies, not exclusively by another input:
- Where external inputs are used, organic plant health is based on the precautionary principle.
- As a result, organic farming rejects the unpredictable risks coming from the release of artificially designed molecules (e.g. “synthetic” pesticides) and organisms (from genetic engineering) into the environment.
- In organic farming only, substances already occurring in the natural system and substances chemically identical to molecules occurring in nature are used:
- Simple mineral substances (kaolin, ferric phosphate, quartz sand, sulphur, copper);
- Substances of plant origin (botanicals like e.g. neem, pyrethrum);
- Substances of animal origin (e.g. whey, pheromones);
- Microorganisms (e.g. Bacillus thuringiensis).
- The organic regulation allows only the use of specific plant protection products, when duly justified and when preventive measures are not enough.
- Consequently, on many of the land cultivated organically no pesticides are applied at all. No herbicides are currently allowed at all.
To explain how a plant health care strategy can work in practice, please see the example of the European copper minimisation strategy in organic farming. It explains the whole set of measures undertaken to continously reduce the use of copper compounds as plant protection product in organic agriculture. There is also a presentation on the use of copper in organic farming online.
For further information please find our position paper about Plant Health Care in Organic Farming here.
If you have any further questions please contact: isabella.lang [at] ifoam-eu.org