PESTS AND DISEASES
After the articles on soil studysoil study and Botany (plant biology) and the various fertilisers that plants need to ensure the greatest and best possible yields I would now like to discuss THE BIOLOGICAL SOLUTION TO ALL PESTS AND DISEASES. It is nowadays possible to avoid the disadvantages of chemicals with a biological approach because numerous natural products contain toxic components whose residues are naturally decomposed after a few days. This makes it possible to prevent or control insects, fungi, nematodes and larvae, and as you very well know, prevention is better than cure, and cheaper to boot.
A biological approach comprises a synthesis (combination) of three ecosystems: soil, roots and plants.
Plant problems concerning growth and pests and diseases must always be viewed in relation to conditions underground (the field of soil science).
Eggs, flea beetles and larvae of thrips and fruit flies (scaria), which cause the dreaded stem rot (wilting), develop in the soil, while the pupae and adult insects live in plants, where they may cause damage.
Scutigerella, nematodes and pill bugs (which feed on the tips of newly formed roots) live only in the soil. The problems they cause can best be controlled with A.R.T.S. Granulaat.
Pests and diseases occur as a result of some limiting factor or during a crop's growth. Plants may be too wet or too dry, the temperature may be too low or too high, the relative humidity may be too high and/or plants may be receiving the wrong nutrients. Such conditions create a stressful situation for plants.
Limiting factors may result from other conditions, too, but the problems will then usually be attributable to poor growth and a poor root system, because you haven't given your plants enough time to develop properly.
Your plants will then have insufficient resistance to pathogenic bacteria and fungi, and the pathogens will be able to infect your plants with various pests and diseases.
By preventively spraying your plants with A.R.T.S Fungus Free every ten days you will boost your plants' natural resistance and reduce by 80% the risk of your plants being infected with fungal diseases such as mildew and rust or being affected by stress.
The risk of insects affecting your crop will also be greater if your plants are not growing all that well, because insects are actually nature's way of tidying things up.
Most problems will therefore affect growers who grow their plants in sterile and dead media. By "dead media" I mean glass wool or rockwool, perlite and/or plastic mats.
That's why the biological equilibrium in the rhizosphere (the root zone) is so very important.
Equilibrium in a root system will prevent growth problems and ensure resistance to pests and diseases. It can be achieved by regularly supplying solid and liquid biocontrol agents with protective and repellent properties typical of plants. Such agents will greatly boost plants' resistance, ensuring more effective protection against harmful influences.
Biocontrol agents are the only way of keeping pests and diseases below the damage threshold. But it is important that you start using them at an early stage and regularly repeat the treatments.
If you should nevertheless encounter problems in spite of all your good care then you will be able to solve those problems with the aid of the available professional biocontrol agents that have proven effective in professional horticulture for many years. These agents are a bit slower than chemical agents, but their ultimate effect is more thorough. The great advantage of biocontrol agents is that they control not only symptoms, but also their cause. Based on my many years' experience and research in professional horticulture, I strongly urge growers to use their common sense and start using biocontrol agents instead of chemical ones, and for the following reasons:
* biocontrol agents are biodegradable;
* biocontrol agents are not toxic for warm-blooded creatures such as humans and animals;
* they are harmless for soil life (fungi and bacteria), insects such as bees, birds and large animals;
.....* they are harmless for plants, even if you accidentally use a slightly incorrect dose;
* and they have not undergone any chemical/synthetic processing.
That's why we nowadays speak of "integrated agents" instead of "crop-protection agents" in relation to organic cultivation. In my experience a biological approach has a better and longer-lasting effect than a chemical approach, but what's more important is that biocontrol agents are much safer in use for growers and their families, and they do not leave behind any non-biodegradable residues in plants, which could be harmful for consumers. After all, consumers are our end-buyers and we don't want to lose them, do we?
In spite of all the good care you give your plants, you may of course nevertheless find yourself faced with pests and diseases. That's why A.R.T.S. has developed a full range of biological products for professional use specially for you.
Our agent Fungus Free is specially intended to prevent and control bud rot (Botrytis), mildew and rust, i.e. all fungi.
For bacterial diseases such as pythium and phytophthora (root rot) we have the agent WORTELROT.
These agents are not harmful for public health and can be safely used either preventively or curatively, before or during cultivation.
Having mentioned public health, I would now like to say a few things about CHEMICAL control of pests and diseases in the cultivation of plants. To tell you the truth, I was quite shocked to discover what chemical control agents wholesalers and shop owners sell and advise you to use - Vertimec, Tork, dichlophos and many others - without them actually knowing much at all about those hazardous agents.
The agents they are selling are however very toxic indeed. Some of the agents that you yourselves use may actually only be used for ornamental crops (flowers and plants) in professional horticulture. Those agents are offered and sold to you illegally.
Chemical control agents are not only bad for humans and animals, but even for your plants. After each treatment your plants will stop growing for at least three days.
Being so terribly toxic, these chemical agents have been banned in professional horticulture for many years, but now hobby growers have begun to experiment with them themselves.
Please take a good look at these photos that were made available by the Medical Faculty of the Erasmus University in Rotterdam, and see for yourself what such toxic vapours can do to your lungs. Surely this is not what chemical growers want to achieve?
Although we talk about buds and flower tips, what we grow are not ornamental crops, but a consumption article comparable with vegetables. Our end product is smoked by many people of all ages.Chemical control agents contain a lot of non-biodegradable hazardous substances with a high risk of causing serious diseases such as skin and lung cancer in users, but even in growers.
Do you – growers and traders – know what protective clothing you should wear to prevent the risk of you inhaling such hazardous substances or the risk of them coming into contact with your skin? Such toxic agents may even be absorbed by your skin, and then make their way into your bloodstream.
The vapours produced by such agents are still hazardous when inhaled even days after a treatment. But if you should feel you really do want to use chemical agents to control pests and diseases, use them in an empty growing area, without plants, merely to sterilise the area. And when doing so, do take good care of yourself and your relatives. Wear an officially approved spray mask, disposable cotton overalls (and don't forget to actually dispose of them after use!) and thick plastic gloves and boots. Thoroughly clean them with plenty of water and soap immediately after use, make sure you don't touch your mouth while doing all this and don't smoke. Then have a long shower and put on clean clothes.
Remember that you mustn't enter the growing area and its immediate surroundings for at least a week. Ventilate well and/or filter the air before entering the area again and introducing new plants into it.
By now you will have come to realise that chemical agents are very toxic and are not or virtually not biodegradable. The latter means that residues of the control agents will always remain in your plants. When you offer such toxic plant parts (the tips) to traders, these chemical residues will make their way directly into consumers' lungs, with all the serious consequences that may have. I can blame the wholesalers who sell these agents to you, but unfortunately they don't have the know-how needed to inform you properly either. So the real culprits are the horticultural suppliers and the chemical industry offering these hazardous agents to people who are unaware of the risks, and that I find outrageous.
But fortunately there are also good, sensible growers and traders who use their common sense to grow their products in the only really healthy way, which is by using a BIOLOGICAL approach.