Cultural Pest and Disease Control Methods
The use of non-toxic traps and natural (non-synthetic) chemicals has always been an important part of pest control. If control of a pest, weed or disease, can be achieved without recourse to synthetic chemicals it will be the best course of action. Non-toxic methods of control are often referred to as cultural control methods. They may include:
- Physical barriers to exclude pests. E.g. Fitting fly screens, putting food in the pantry in sealed containers and sealing up gaps where pests may gain entry.
- Changing the conditions to make this attractive to, or suitable for the pests, weed or disease. E.g. Raising lawn soil pH to prevent weeds, removing food sources to reduce pests that would feed on it and ensuring plants are in well-draining soil to prevent root rot.
- Chose resistant plants. E.g. In the garden, you can select, with the help of your garden centre or nursery, plants that are resistant to pests and disease.
- Looking after your home and garden with regular maintenance of the buildings, soils and tools will help control pests, weeds and disease.
- Non-toxic traps can be effective on their own or as part of an integrated pest control programme.
- Biological controls and the use of botanical (natural) pesticides are also considered cultural control methods. E.g. Organic Insect Control pyrethrum for control of many insect pests.
- Encourage the natural predators of pests. E.g. Grow wildflowers that attract predatory wasps and ladybugs.
- Crop rotation will help prevent carry-over of pests and disease in the soil from one year to the next. E.g. in the vegetable patch you may rotate:
i) leaf crops such as cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, turnips,
ii) root crops such as carrots, parsnips, beetroot, radish,
iii) then legumes and other plants such as beans, peas, green manures (including lupins and oats), potatoes, celery, leeks.
- Prompt action can help stop pests, weeds and disease getting out of hand. E.g. Dig out weeds when they are young and newly emerged and before they have seeded and spread, prune away infected material from plants as soon as damage is observed and search for and deal with ant nests as soon as ants are seen active.
These cultural controls may not always be enough on their own to control a pest infestation, weed spread or disease infection, but they should always be part of your programme of control.