April 5, 2020

Reducing the Amount of Pesticide and Fertilizer Used On, And Leaving Our Landscapes

Here is an overview of how we can reduce the use of chemicals on the landscape.

Each of the topics I discuss here is really a stand-alone subject so I encourage you to perform further research.

Reduce the manicured lawn size.

Lawns consume a huge amount of resources.

Mowing uses gas and oil unless you use a push mower.

Lawns use more fertilizer, weed killer and insecticide than other panorama uses. Even organic lawns need to be mowed, and use fertilizer.

Yards are also more likely to produce fertilizer runoff than tree, shrub and flower beds, or vegetable gardens.

Think about how much of that lawn you really use and how much is using you. Might some of that lawn better function your landscape if it were transformed into other uses like a flower backyard or shrubs and trees?

Lawns are a huge source of the overuse of pesticides.

How many people use a grub control/fertilizer combo every year without knowing if grubs even exist? It requires between 8-12 Japanese beetle grubs per square foot to show any kind of noticeable damage on a cared for lawn. If you don’t have this many then may treat. This is a simple test to do with a bulb planter. Simply estimate the area that the planter will eliminate and convert that number to Sq . feet. Take several plugs out of the lawn and count the number of grubs per square foot. This requires less time than running down to your garden store for unneeded grub great.

Use your Agricultural extension service.

Of course I don’t expect you to turn out to be experts on diseases and bugs from a short article, so create good use your Agricultural extension services.

This is the best recourse you have, it is cheap, and they are not in business to market you anything so their guidance is not tainted. I use them all the time, none of us know or keep in mind everything. It would be nice when they help you out to drop a line to the legislators and Governor of your state, because a greatly under appreciated services that is constantly under the budget axe

Plant breaks on slopes.

A sloped area of lawn, paths as well as seasonal vegetation is more likely to trigger runoff than a flat area. Sloped areas near streams, other water sources and even roads where runoff will enter the sewer system must always have a vegetative break. Choose, sturdy, insect and disease resistant vegetation, preferably native species for these places.

If you are not totally organic use built-in pest management (IPM) to control unwanted pests.

IPM includes but is not limited to:

Overseeing and correctly identifying pests.
The usage of Predators.
Cultural/physical control.
Proper planting, watering, fertilizing and mulching.
Choosing the right plants for the environment.
Selecting pest and disease resistant plants and varieties.
And the use of pesticides.
Exactly what pest?
Obviously a pest will be most often considered an insect. Officially though in this field anything that impacts the health of a plant is considered a pest, this not only includes bugs and disease but also environmental reasons for poor health such as sun scold, wind burn, over mulching etc .

Checking and Identification.

Far too many treatments are usually preformed on pests that are possibly not present, not properly recognized, or not at the level that we contact a threshold.

A Threshold may be the number of pests that have to be show reach the point at which control is needed.

There are different threshold levels for different people, situations and crops. The tolerance for say a commercial rose grower that has to have a perfect product available may be a lot different from what you may consider acceptable in your garden. You can monitor your insect populations and learn. For example if you see a few aphids on a couple of plants, does this mean you have to go out and spray? Not necessarily. First you need to know if the populations are increasing. Check back in a day or even two. Are predatory insects close to and how many are present? Are you going to go into a spell of hot dry weather? Most Aphid species are done for when the weather will get around 80-90 degrees for a few times. So you have a few aphids, a few days later the populations are not really increasing, there are Lady Bugs, Parasitic Wasps, and Lacewing present. The elements report is for a hot dried out period. Spraying here would be a waste of time.

Keep a record of past troubles.

Different problems occur under various environmental conditions.

If you have for example a pleasant perennial bed that is prone to Botrytis, know what conditions favor the development of this disease.

There is no point in treating having a fungicide unless the conditions intended for development exist.

Timing of programs.

It is poor practice to treat an insect problem without knowing the pest stage and best control time. Fungi for the most part are only effectively managed before symptoms appear, hence the record keeping.

A lot of insects could be controlled in their juvenile stages simply with soft chemicals such as Cleaning soap, Oil, or Bacillus thuringiensis. Later on these become much harder to manage and more toxic chemicals are needed.

Report keeping and dates of emerge can help in timing insect phases but the most reliable method is using degree-days, the next best method is using bloom period (phenology).

A simple description of Level days is that it is the accumulated heat during a season. Scientists have calculated the hatch time of numerous pests for specific degree-days, but not for everyone.

In New Hampshire where I live.
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A few degree-day records are kept simply by UNH using volunteer stations. Your state may have something like this as it is getting to be a recognized part of pest manage. You can buy your own degree day calculator but they are a bit expensive.

Pesticide Use.

Pesticides are part of the IPM approach to healthy plants but they are used sparingly, at the right time and on the right target.

This is a huge plus extensively complicated subject and once once again your local extension service is the location for you to get specific information so feel just going to give you a bit of tips if you do need to resort to their use.

As a rule the newer pesticides are less hazardous than the older pesticides. These pesticides are usually much more particular to the insects that they kill, plus break down more quickly in the environment. Exactly how hazardous a chemical is differs from how toxic it is. Risk is defined as the potential to cause harm to non-target organisms. For example a highly toxic pesticide that is injected into a tree, or even breaks down quickly, or does not simply leach or evaporate may be a lot less hazardous than a pesticide that is low in toxicity, lasts a long time, leaches or even evaporates easily.

Choose pesticides that are specific to the insect you need to deal with. Broad-spectrum chemicals such as bifenthrin generally end up causing more problems compared to they solve. Treat only if the problem exists and the timing is right. Try to treat only the affected plants, you don’t have to treat the whole yard for a few Aphids on your Zinnia.

Two common misconceptions are one, that using a pesticide below the recommended rate will certainly cut down the usage. It won’t, trimming the recommended rate is likely to lead to resistance to the product and the increased utilization of pesticides. And two, that using over the recommended rate will give you much better control, it won’t these products have been extensively studied and using more is each wasteful and dangerous.

Now I hear wheels turning in the members of my audience that are still alert.

But isn’t the use of any pesticide contributing to pollution of our environment? Properly maybe not always. Take the example of an invasive species such as the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid. Assume that you have a nice remain of healthy Hemlock in your lawn. How many tons of Carbon dioxide (Co2) and other chemicals are these trees blocking from the atmosphere?

How many birds along with other creatures are they supporting? Are they covering a stream full of fish? Possibly they are shading your house and reducing the amount of power you use for air conditioner? Now we have to weigh the use of a pesticide to kill this pest contrary to the losses of all these benefits. Only the amount of toxic chemicals filtered by these trees in a year would considerably outweigh the small amount of pollution brought on by chemical pest control.

Always read through and follow the pesticide label.

Cultural/physical control.

Keeping your landscape healthful also involves cultural or physical infestation control.

This can involve many things. If you rake up pine needles in the fall to control White Pine Weevil, put burlap around sensitive vegetation for the winter, or mulch, they are examples of cultural and physical power over pests.

Plant choice.

Another a part of a healthy landscape is the correct herb choice.

Sure you love that blooming crab that you see down at the local garden store, but is it good for where you want to plant this.

You need to know, is it the right plant intended for where you want to put it?

Are the garden soil conditions, light and exposure befitting the plant?

Pieris is often planted within a sunny exposure, which leads to ribbons bug troubles where the same plant in shade gets almost no lacebug.

Is this a disease and insect proof variety? If not maybe there is a various variety that is almost as nice and is resistant?

Is this an alternate pest or disease host to something which is already there?

I see far to numerous Crab Apples that get treated every year for Cedar Apple Corrosion because they are planted in Juniper beds, Junipers are the alternate host for this disease.

Spruce and Douglass Fir are frequently planted close to each other with no regard to the fact that these trees are alternate hosts for Spruce Gall Adelgid. Though this pest may reproduce independently on Spruce, Douglass Fir nearby greatly increases the issue.

If you are looking at a new planting consider utilizing native species, these are less likely to need extra care.


Potential predators play a huge role in keeping your garden pests down.

Though some success has been achieved by releasing predatory insects, predator release is a tricky plus an often-disappointing adventure. This is not to say that they don’t work, but so many factors are involved in successful releases that you should be aware of the pitfalls and become familiar with the success rate of the particular species. Research is continuing on improving the survival rate of released predators, but it is still a bit of hit or miss at the moment.

It is far more advantageous to encourage the predators that are already there and help with their survival.

Keeping something flowering in your yard all season will definitely help encourage predators, and help them survive. Nectar from flowers is used by many predatory insects, either as a juvenile stage food source, or as a sustaining food when prey is scarce. There are many good lists on the web to tell you the very best plants, some are weeds, some you may not like. However almost any flowering plant is better than none.

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