Organic farming relies heavily on populations of beneficial insect predators and parasites, pest disease agents, insect-eating birds and bats, and other creatures, to help manage pest problems. These biological controls help keep pest numbers at levels where further cultural activities or relatively mild pesticides are (usually) adequate to assure a crop. In some instances, biological control can be so effective that no additional action is even needed by the farmer.
Some see biological control as a default benefit of the soil fertility practices of organic farming. The diversity of crops in a soil-building rotation, the use of cover crops, and other practices build a diverse soil biology that works to keep soil pests in check. They also provide substantial above-ground habitat for beneficials. The absence of pesticides also favors biocontrol.
In many organic systems, farmers sometimes purchase and release control agents like ladybird beetles, lacewings, trichogramma wasps, etc., or use weeder geese — a quaint but effective biological weed control.
Increasingly, growers are designing and maintaining both permanent and temporary habitats specifically for beneficial insects, spiders, and other helpful species. This is known as farmscaping.
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