can also help to increasediversity above ground.
Crop rotations are an im-portant part of an organicproduction system. Rotatingcrops sequentially in thesame field helps to achievediversity both above and be-low ground. Rotating cropsdeters insects and diseasesby disrupting their life cycles.
Intercropping and strip-cropping
A grower who practicesintercropping (growing twoor more crops in the same,alternate, or paired rows inthe same area) and strip cropping (planting two or more crops in different strips across a field) increasesdiversity on the farm. These farming practices help todisguise plants from pests and can provide food for beneficial organisms.
A grower can also avoid disease or insect damageby altering planting dates. Waiting until a pest organ-ism has died or has reached the stage beyond whichit can cause damage is beneficial.
Biological control includes the use of organisms tokeep pest populations at an economic or an actionthreshold. These thresholds are described as thepoint at which action must be taken in order for thepopulation of pest organisms not to impact thegrower’s yields substantially. These organisms canbe naturally occurring ones or ones that are releasedat appropriate times onto the farm to control insectsand diseases. The beneficial organisms that occur naturally on the farm can be encouraged to stay therethrough what has been referred to as farmscaping.Farmscaping is when a farmer manipulates the farm’secosystem to provide habitat for beneficial organisms.These organisms can be either predators or parasites;they include birds, bats, insects, fungi, bacteria, andviruses. A farmer has many options to choose from.When a grower makes a management decision, it isimportant for him or her to be knowledgeable aboutthe beneficial and pest organisms in the field in or-der to use the right tools at the right time.Web sites listed at the end of this fact sheet canhelp growers identify organisms, or they may visitWVU county Extension offices. Growers may alsomail specimens to WVU extension specialists or theWest Virginia Department of Agriculture Pest Identi-fication Laboratory. Please visithttp://www.wvu.edu/~agexten/ipm/submit.htmfor more information.
The Final Rule states that farmers may use somenaturally occurring chemical controls as a last re-sort. Organic chemical controls include biorationalpesticides that are derived from natural sources,particle film barriers, botanical pesticides made fromplants, and compost teas. For a list of chemicalcontrols that are permitted under an organic system,please visit the National List of Allowed and Prohib-ited Substances(http://www.ams.usda.gov/nop/NationalList/FinalRule.html). Or visit the Organic Materials Review Insti-tute (OMRI) (http://www.omri.org/). OMRI is a non-profit organization that publishes and disseminateslists of generic and specific (brand name) materialsallowed and prohibited for use in the production,processing, and handling of organic food and fiber.
Plant diseases are caused primarily by fungi, bac-teria, viruses, and nematodes. Similar methods areused to control both insect and disease pests under an organic system, but some specific ways of reduc-ing diseases on a farm include use of resistant va-rieties, use of certified disease-free seed and plants,proper spacing of plants, proper selection of sites,and exclusion of contaminated materials.
Using varieties that have been bred for resistanceto certain disease pests is the most important com-ponent of an organic disease control program. Al-though using resistant varieties has proven effec-tive, it has limitations. First, a grower may not al-ways be able to find a variety that is resistant to aspecific disease, or the variety may be resistant to
Larvae are predators that feed on small, soft-bodied insects; the adults are often found on flowers feeding on pollen or nectar during thelate summer and early fall.