Biological control of fungus
Fungi are the main cause for plant diseases. You may have noticed fungi growing on food you may have forgotten – everything is ruined.
While most fungi like to feed on decomposing matter – there are other types that will colonize living material- like your plants.
Fungi can be very small and hard to see. They can infect different areas of your plant, like the roots, leaves, or fruits and vegetables.
If you miss the opportunity to treat it, due to its fast reproduction cycles it may be too late.
Fungal pathogens can spread quickly moving with the wind, through the water, and are carried with shoes or animals.
The best way to deal with plant diseases is to avoid plant diseases in the first place. Adopting good practices can reduce the risk of plant diseases. Elements such as crop rotation, irrigation optimization, proper selection of seed and organic fertilizers all contribute to the prevalence of plant diseases.
Weak plants will always be the most vulnerable. Starting from the seed, only plant the full sized seeds. Smaller seed sizes will result in weaker crops.
Fungi proliferate faster with water, therefore decreasing humidity around the plants is crucial.
Humidity increases with high plant density, weeds, over-irrigation, or badly managed irrigation, and mis-aeration in the greenhouse.
Only use high quality organic fertilizers. The increased use of chemical fertilizers, manure and poorly managed compost make your plants more susceptible to diseases
A small test you can do to check the quality of your fertilizer is a sprouting test.
Take a sample of your fertilizer and put it in a planting pot or a small area in the garden. Plant some seeds in high density, irrigate. After 1 week, look for fungi in your germinated seeds, to tell the quality of the compost.
Always and regularly check your crops, and if you identify a plant disease you will need to act fast.
While conventional farmers use pesticides, pathogens become resistant to them over time, creating stronger infections. Organic farmers don’t wait until their plants get diseases, but their strategy is to work preventively against all diseases and pests.
Their preventive measures include:
– Proper weed management, and regulating irrigation to reduce humidity
– Spraying compost tea at least once a month to increase beneficial microorganisms
– Crop rotations of with plants such as legumes, cereals and vegetables to reduce disease in soil
In case of infestation, organic farmers can use bio-pesticides that are not harmful to the environment and are safe to use, and safe to eat. This can include sulfur, sodium bi-carbonate and copper.
Adopting good practices and when needed using safe biopesticides are the ways of an organic farmer, that doesn’t isolate the problem but instead seeks holistic solutions for healthy soil, healthy plants and healthy people.