No. 1: What is a pest?
What is a pest? A pest is a creature that damages crops. And one of the most important things a farmer can learn is that not all insects are pests. Many insects eat other insects. They are called beneficial or friendly insects, because they help control the insects that DO damage crops. So when you start to think about pest control, remember: not all insects are pests. Some insects help farmers.
No. 2: Chemical pesticides can cause problems
Many farmers use only chemical pesticides to control pests. At first, they get good results. But chemical pesticides do not just kill harmful pests. They also kill many of the friendly insects which help control those pests. Then farmers have to spend more money and use more pesticides to do the work that the friendly insects were doing before. Chemical pesticides also tend to kill the weakest insects. The stronger pests survive and breed an even stronger generation of pests that can resist the pesticide.
No. 3: Keep plants healthy so they resist pests
Healthy plants resist pests. Well-fed plants can build defenses against pests, just as well-fed people are less likely to get sick. To food plants well, you have to feed the soil they grow in. Some of the best ways to feed the soil are to add compost and manure, and grow green manure crops and nitrogen-fixing trees.
No. 4: Prevent insects from becoming pests
Good crop management is one of the best ways to cut down on pests. For example, if you fertilize the soil well, the plants will get all the nutrients they need. If they get all the nutrients they need, they will stay healthy and resist pests. Selecting good seeds is another way to make sure crops can resist pests. And rotating crops makes it difficult for pests to live in the same location year after year. All these practices help prevent insects from becoming a problem in the first place.
No. 5: Diversify
If you plant many different crops and crop varieties together in your garden or field, insect pests will do less damage to your crops. Most pests prefer to eat only one or two crops. If you plant a large area with a crop they like to eat, they can easily find the crop and eat lots of it. But if you plant many different crops in small areas or rows beside other crops, it is harder for the pests to find the crops they like to eat. In the forest you can see that there are many different types of trees and plants and very little pest damage.