Because biological products are fairly new to many farmers, it can be hard to know where they fit in an operation. The confusion starts when words like conventional and organic are used to describe products. Actually, these terms are more about practices.
Organic farming is a practice that can utilize three different types of crop protection products: natural, synthetic, and/or biological products.
Natural products are, of course, found in nature, like organisms, minerals or elements. Copper is natural, but so is arsenic. Just because a product is natural doesn’t mean it is safe or that it’s automatically approved for use in organic agriculture.
Synthetic products are produced by changing or creating something through a chemical process. The word synthetic does not define how safe something is for humans or the environment. A handful of synthetic chemistries are approved for organic agriculture. Some synthetic products get their start as natural materials that have been chemically adjusted to be more effective on the farm.
Biologicals are completely natural. They can be living organisms or derived from living organisms or natural sources. Biologicals aren’t always products. Releasing ladybugs in a field to consume damaging aphids is a type of biological pest control. When they’re packaged as products, biologicals provide farmers with natural solutions in a way that’s convenient to use with their crops.
Biologicals can be certified for use in organic agriculture production, but they also complement conventional production that uses synthetic products. For example, a farmer may choose to use a pheromone product to attract pests in their field, then spray a synthetic insecticide to control those pests in a specific area.
When used with synthetic products in conventional farming, biologicals can help farmers use conventional chemistry more selectively. And, because biologicals work through different modes of action than synthetic products, using them can help reduce resistance and give conventional products a longer use life on the farm.
Naturally occurring biological products with proven performance make a valuable addition to a diverse set of farming practices, whether farmers are completely organic, mostly conventional or simply focused on what works best for their farm.
Biologicals are either living organisms or are derived from living organisms or other natural sources. The Methylobacteria seen here is the basis of Utrisha™ N nitrogen efficiency optimizer, a new biological product from Corteva Agriscience.
Utrisha™ N nitrogen efficiency optimizer is not registered for sale or use in all states or countries. Contact your local regulatory agency to determine if a product is registered for sale or use in your area. Always read and follow label directions.