What Are Farmer's Alternatives To Pesticides?

     We are concerned with bringing awareness to the issue of factory farming runoff, but without using harmful chemicals, how can farmers ensure profitable harvests each year? Below are alternative practices that organic or environmentally conscious farmers are using to help decrease the negative impacts of traditional pesticides. While numerous smaller farms across the country are employing these treatments, large scale factory farms remain resistant. The cost remains high for alternative practices and government subsidies and incentives have yet to catch up with chemical free farming practices. The future of farming now rests in the hands of consumers (us!). We can make smarter choices in what we buy and we can contact local, state and federal officials to voice concern about these issues (see this link to contact the EPA about pesticide use). So, the next time you go to the farmer's market or local grocery co-op ask them what practices they use in their pest management and don't be afraid to make suggestions.

Integrated Pest Management

Many sustainable farms use Integrated Pest Management (IPM) as an alternative to the heavy use of pesticides.  IPM is a growing movement among farms of all sizes that incorporates a variety of techniques to eliminate pests while minimizing environmental damage. For instance, an IPM farm may grow pest-resistant crop varieties, use predatory insects to kill plant-eating pests, employ mechanical pest traps, and eliminate pest nesting areas by plowing under harvested crops. Chemical and natural pesticides are used only as a last resort.  

Crop Rotation and Other Growing Techniques

Other techniques used by sustainable farms include crop rotation, which involves planting crops in different places each season in order to replenish nutrients removed from the soil by a particular plant, and intercropping, a method of planting crops in close proximity. These practices help to break pest cycles, allow the soil to naturally replenish itself, help reduce weeds, and encourage plant diversity in order to avoid insect and pest infestation.
This information comes from sustainabletable.org