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BIOLOGICAL CONTROL

What is biological control? Biological Control: The control of a pest by the introduction of a natural enemy or predator. Biological control is the natural control of pests. It is where you use natural competitors or predators of a pest, such as beetles or parasites, instead of insecticides or herbicides. Due to the reduced number of chemicals, it is generally better for the environment whilst still removing the pest effectively. Most of the pests that are eradicated using biological control are weeds. However, biological control can also be used to keep animals at bay. When considering factors for choosing a predator, ecologists will often pick the natural predator to the pest. With increasing international travel and trade, problems with foreign pests becomes increasingly severe. Types of biological control There are three main types of biological control: Importation- If the pest is from a foreign country then the predator of that pest is imported in and introduced to control the pest Augmentation- You take the natural enemy and directly improve it through genetic engineering or increasing numbers Conservation- Conserving the natural predator by improving conditions it finds favourable The disadvantages concerning biological control The cane toad In 1935 the cane beetle was a massive problem for the sugar industry. The Cane toad was introduced to try and control it because they were thought to be a predator to the cane beetle. The toads multiplied once released and there was no evidence that they were even effective against the beetle! They are now out-competing native species and are dangerous to predators who haven't adapted to its poison produced when attacked Companion planting Companion planting: The close planting of different plants that enhance each other's growth or protect each other from pests, due to the benefits it bestows on this "companion plant." Organic gardeners, for instance, often juxtapose plants because the one will have insect-repelling qualities that benefit the other, obviating the need to use chemical pesticides. One plant can even serve as living mulch" for another. Sometimes, the benefits are shared in companion planting, making for a symbiotic relationship. Crop Rotation Crop rotation: Rotating the type of crop grown in a field every season. This prevents the build-up of pests such as weeds which feed on a specific crop as the crop is rotated so it cant benefit from the other plants and is killed.

By Alex and Kieran