Two Kinds of Parasite Control

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In terms of complexity theory (see 2), the control of crop parasites may be linear or non-linear. Blanketing a crop with protection chemicals is a linear control. It is a simple, linear solution applied to a complex, non-linear system. These simple solutions can often be very effective in the short-term. But, in the long-term, they are unstable, and liable to produce endless complications.

The self-organisation of a natural ecosystem, or a wild plant pathosystem, is a non-linear control. It is a complex solution operating in a complex, non-linear system. These complex solutions are very effective, and very stable, over both historical and geological time.

So long as agriculture was 'close to nature' and 'primitive', yields and crop quality were relatively low, and the control of crop parasites was non-linear and stable. With the advent of modern commercial agriculture, yields and crop quality improved dramatically, but the control of crop parasites became linear, and unstable. We must now return to a non-linear control of crop parasites, while retaining the high yields and crop quality of modern agriculture. We can do this with self-organising agro-ecosystems (see 11.21).

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