Featured Agricultural Systems Impactsd

Research reduces reliance on chemical pesticides in strawberries

Nonchemical alternatives are generally perceived to be less effective than chemical pesticides in the treatment against pests. However, increasing consumer interest in fruits and vegetables treated with less chemicals suggests that an effective strategy to balance the use of chemical and nonchemical alternatives without compromising efficacy is essential.

Researchers in California conducted a series of large-scale field studies to evaluate the potential of integrating botanical and microbial pesticides with current pest management practices. The studies looked at the efficacy of 33 different nonchemical treatments on insect pests in strawberry crops, which rank among the most important agriculture commodities in the state. California contributes 88% of fresh strawberry production in the United States.

Results demonstrate that nonchemical alternatives can have a significant impact on reducing the number of chemical pesticide applications, lowering rates of chemical pesticides needed to reduce pests and slowing the development of insects that are resistant to commonly used chemical pesticides. These results underscore the important role of nonchemical alternatives beyond organic agriculture and their potential in conventional cropping systems. Incorporating nonchemical alternatives into an integrated pest management strategy is a key component of sustainable agriculture.