Practices for preventative management

Preventative management is the first line of defense for organic farmers controlling pests, weeds, and diseases.

What best practices in organic help prevent weed and pest issues?

The use of crop rotation and targeted soil nutrient management can prevent recurring issues from weeds, pests, and disease. Selecting regionally appropriate seed and crops is helpful. And, using sanitation measures to remove disease vectors and pest habitat also can eliminate long-term issues.

What control practices are allowed for pests?

Some farms introduce beneficial insects as predators of the pest species to bring an outbreak under control. This includes the development of beneficial insect habitat throughout the farm property. Nonsynthetic controls such as lures, pheromone traps, and repellents may also be effective to control pests when preventative strategies are not enough.

What control practices are allowed for disease?

The use of farm management practices that suppress the spread of disease is a year-round practice. From mulches such as green manure and compost to implementing drip irrigation, these practices and others can keep disease under control. Additionally, the application of nonsynthetic biological, botanical, or mineral inputs can also be a disease management tool.

What control practices are allowed for weeds?

For weeds, control practices such as mulching, mowing, livestock grazing, flame-weeding, and others can all keep weeds under control throughout and beyond the growing season.

What is allowed when preventative management practices fail?

If preventative strategies are unable to prevent or control crop pests and diseases, you may be able to use a biological or botanical material, or an allowed material from the National List, to prevent, suppress, or control pests. You must verify approval of the product with OTCO prior to use whenever the approved material is not OMRI- or WSDA-listed. In all instances, you are required to demonstrate and document the conditions for using the material.

Learn more about preventative practices from certified organic farmers in this video, developed by the Washington State Department of Agriculture in partnership with USDA National Organic Program:

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