Pest, weed and disease management

#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:

#Emergency treatments for crops

On rare occasions, federal or state authorities put into effect emergency pest or disease treatment programs that mandate the use of materials that are prohibited for use in organic production.

Will my organic certification status be jeopardized if I’m required to use a prohibited material on my crops?

No, provided all harvestable crops or plant parts that come into contact with a prohibited substance, applied as the result of a federal or state emergency pest or disease treatment program, are not sold, labeled, or represented as organically produced.

What documentation is needed for organic records in case of a federal or state emergency treatment program?

In general, we request as much information as possible prior to implementation of a federal or state emergency treatment program. Records may include: a copy of the federal or state emergency program mandate; information regarding the required material for application; whether or not an alternative approved organic material or method is available, and explanation for why that cannot be used; locations and schedule for applications; and, crop-specific information such as plant stage, etc.

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