Tuesday, November 3, 2009: 10:00 AM
Convention Center, Room 308, Third Floor
Organic agriculture is based on an ecological world-view. Conventional agriculture is based on a mechanistic worldview. An overview of these vastly different concepts will be provided and used to identify the structures and processes necessary for successful organic enterprises. The paradox of organic pest management results from the fact that the words pest, weed and disease do not exist in the language of ecology. Organic pest management can be described as a three-stage mountain climbing trek: 1) exploring the foothills, 2) mastering the slippery slopes and 3) maintaining prosperity at the summit. Each stage has different challenges and options. For some organic farmers, especially those exploring the foothills, as part of the transition process; pests (viruses, bacteria, fungi, nematodes, arthropods and weeds) are often key limiting factors. Pests can also present significant management challenges during the second phase of organic pest management. In this phase, growers strive for development of self-regulating systems. Pests are not usually major issues for individuals farming in a dynamic manner at the summit of
Mt. . The best way to understand organic agriculture and organic pest management is through use of a combination of on-farm experience and the procedures of systems science. Twentieth Century technologies resulted in development of systems control and communications theory leading to the concept of feedback as the stimulus for control of system performance. All biotic entities have potential for exponential growth. This, however, is usually regulated by environmental resistance. Exponential runaways, pests, occur when systems are severely disturbed. This results in plants becoming weeds, insects and nematodes becoming pests and fungi, bacteria, viruses, and prions becoming pathogens; putting entire food systems at severe risk.