Today’s overuse of pesticides in agriculture has a detrimental effect on the environment. These dangerous substances exterminate not only many plant and animal species, but they also contaminate the soil and water. Traces of pesticides can be found in our food and thus endanger human health as well. Modern aquaponic farms reliably produce foodstuffs without the use of any chemical agents. How do the operators of these farms battle pests?
Growing crops always carries the risk of infestation by various forms of pests, unwanted organisms and disease. Pesticides, such as insecticides, fungicides and herbicides, are used in intensive agriculture to eliminate these threats. A significant problem today is the overuse of these pesticides, which has harmful effects on the environment and on human health.
Representatives of both ecology organizations and the countries of the European Union have long worked towards limiting the use of pesticides and they endeavor to motivate farmers to use non-chemical agents and other alternative methods of agriculture.
One of the alternative methods of ecological production of healthy and high-quality foodstuffs is aquaponics. Modern aquaponic farms, which combine growing plants with raising fish, respect the cycle of nutrients in nature. The use of agrochemicals is forbidden, as this would irreversibly damage the ecosystem of the entire farm.
The operators of aquaponic farms use biological protections for their plants. To control pests such as aphids, whiteflies, thrips, spider mites and butterflies, farmers make use of their natural enemies – predators. A typical example of biological protection of plant crops would be to bring in certain types of hover flies and predatory mites or bugs. For example, the parasitoid chalcidoid wasp Encarsia formosa protects plants against whiteflies in greenhouses. Pheromone traps or biological sprays using the soil-dwelling bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis are also used as biological protection. Biological protection of plant crops is used only when a more serious infestation of harmful organisms has been discovered.
It is always better to avoid an infestation of plant crops. In aquaponic farming, therefore, great importance is placed on prevention. Selecting appropriate and resistant varieties, installing mechanical barriers and observing strict hygiene procedures on farms are essential.