Environmental Stewardship

Botanicals Have a Bright Future: What’s Old is New Again

The use of botanical oils to protect plants is as old as the plants themselves. Plants developed these complex substances over millennia to repel or kill feeding insects and harmful fungi and bacteria. Botanicals used to be the main way humans protected themselves and their crops from harmful pests, until the advent of synthetic pesticides during World War I. Now, amid concerns that the synthetic chemicals are posing adverse risks to human and environmental safety, along with the development of insect and fungal resistance, botanicals have come full circle and represent the future of agricultural pest control. But to...

Botanicals Are Safe, Effective and Better Than Before

Consumer concerns about pollinator health, persistence of chemicals in the environment and the safety of the food we eat are beginning to trickle upwards. Growers are cognizant of customers’ perceptions, whether real or biased, and regulators continue to tighten restrictions on pesticides and labeling. But still, growers need to protect their crops. “Botanicals are part of the solution,” says Steve Bessette, Vice-President of the Botanicals division at KeyPlex. “The product we offer, Ecotrol, contains botanical active ingredients (peppermint oil, rosemary oil and geraniol), is U.S. EPA exempt and USDA NOP compliant, and utilizes GRAS materials, which nobody else has.”...

Back to Nature: Using Botanicals as Pest Control

Before organophosphates, before organochlorines, before carbamates, before synthetic pyrethroids, there were botanicals, the naturally occurring chemicals plants produced as their own defensive mechanism against feeding insects. Plants have had 400 million years to develop highly complex chemicals that defend against their own specific predators, and extracts from plants have been used by humans for at least 2,000 years to deter or kill insect pests. There is documentation of pyrethrum powder being used as a delouser on children in ancient Persia as far back as 400 B.C.E., and extracts from the neem tree (Azadirachta indica) were used by ancient cultures...

Botanicals Offer Solution to Pesticide Resistance

As the number of insecticides available to growers continues to dwindle because of tightening regulations and development of pest resistance, the quest for new products increases. These new products will have to conform to strict regulations due to concerns about human, animal, environmental and pollinator safety. Ideally, new insecticides need to have a unique mode of action to counter insects’ ability to develop resistance. In addition, many synthetic chemicals currently rely on single-molecule technology, and it’s easier for pests to develop resistance to one molecule at a time. Steve Bessette, vice president of the botanicals division at Keyplex, says...

Watering Wisely: Best Management Practices for Irrigation

Conserve water by following these best practices The importance of water conservation in the agricultural and horticultural industries is based upon a simple fact-no water, no plants. Increasing demands upon water resources means that there is a lot of competition for a piece of the pie. The more that is done to conserve water, the longer the pie will last for everyone; and the better it is for the environment. “Water conservation should be a combination of physical enhancements and improved water management practices that optimize existing on-farm resources,” says Marcel Aillery, Agricultural Economist for The United States Department...

The 4Rs: Nutrient Stewardship Program Encourages Sustainability and Reduces Costs

Guidelines for Developing Site-specific Plant Nutrition Plan Based on Best Management Practices The fertilizer industry, as well as the farmers it serves, recognizes the importance of managing nutrients correctly both for maximum profitability and improved agricultural sustainability. Excess fertilizer leaches into waterways as well as costing growers extra money. Too little fertilizer has an obvious impact on yields and can also contribute to soil erosion by not supporting enough plant life to anchor soil in place. Without fertilizer, farmers cannot maintain the kinds of yields necessary to feed the world’s burgeoning population. While advances in genetics and biotech seed...

Environmentally Sound Soil Fertility Management

Six best management practices for minimizing the impact of fertilizer on the environment. You have heard the horror stories about the lingering effects of chemical fertilizers on the environment-water supplies contaminated, air quality compromised, ocean life destroyed. They are alarming and disturbing at the very least. It is easy to believe that the fertilizer industry does not care about what happens to the environment but nothing could be further from the truth. The industry advocates responsible nutrient management that minimizes the negative impacts of fertilizer on the environment. Recently, four leaders in the fertilizer industry, The Fertilizer Institute (TFI),...
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