The Pros and Cons of the Biological Control Method of Pest Management

The Pros and Cons of the Biological Control Method of Pest Management

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The Advantages and Disadvantages of the Biological Control Method of Pest Management

The biological control method of pest management does not use
chemicals. Biological control uses various organisms that are either
predators or parasites to the pest. A pest is an organism which causes
damage to people and their crops, however this is an economical
definition, as opposed to a biological one. Something is considered to
be a pest when it reduces productivity by 5-10%.

Plants require certain mineral ions in order to grow well, however
there is a limited amount of these in soil. Therefore if weeds are
growing in a wheat crop, they will take some of the mineral ions that
would go to the wheat plants. Interspecific competition is the
competition between organisms of different species for the resources
that they require, and intraspecific competition is the competition
between organisms of the same species. Weeds also compete with crops
for water and light as opposed to just mineral ions.

Pests reduce the yield of plants in various ways. They can have a
direct effect by damaging the leaves of the plant. Aphids feed by
inserting their mouthparts into plant cells, this often results in
leaves curling up and becoming distorted. Considering the leaves of a
plant are the places where the majority of the photosynthesis takes
place, it follows that a plant with stunted leaves will not
photosynthesise effectively. As a result there will be smaller amounts
of sugars available to be transported to other parts of the plant such
as the fruits, seeds and roots.

There are already a significant number of successful biological
control methods and many other organisms are being investigated in
order to see if they are suitable for using in the control of pests.
The advantages of the biological control method of pest management are
-

· Using organisms would be safer for the environment, as opposed to
chemicals.

· There is minimal threat to non-target animals.

· Once a biological control organism is introduced, it does not have

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to be re-introduced. Chemical pesticides must be used repeatedly,
therefore more expenses and time consumed.

· It is relatively inexpensive.

· It is significantly specific and only affects the pest.

· Pests do not become resistant to organisms used for biological
control.

Despite the advantages, there are also numerous disadvantages of the
biological control method of pest management, which are -

· Potential risk to non-target animals.

· An effective biological control programme keeps numbers of the pest
at a low level, however it rarely exterminates the pest completely.

· Frequently there is some time between introducing the control
organism and a substantial reduction in numbers of the pest. Chemical
pesticides act much more quickly.

A very effective control programme would use a variety of methods. We
refer to this approach as integrated pest management. It often
involves making use of natural parasites and predators or biological
and supporting this with the infrequent use of pesticides.

The Process

The majority of animals and plants are not native to the area in which
they are pests. In their new environment there are often no predators
or parasites to keep their numbers in check. Biologists search the
area from the which the pest originally came for suitable predators
and parasites to use in a biological control programe.

Trials are carried out to ensure that the control organism - will only
attack the pest, does not carry diseases that may be spread to native
animals or plants, can establish itself and maintain it's numbers in
it's new environment. Great care must be taken to prevent the control
organisms from escaping before the trials are complete.

The control organisms are bred or cultured in large numbers, they are
then released. Scientists later collect the relevant information to
find out if the programme has been a success.

References

A New Introduction To Biology – Bill Indge et al, Hodder & Stoughton

http://bc4weeds.tamu.edu/
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