The purpose of farming is to produce enough food to meet the population demand, with these products being of good quality and food safety in order to avoid any damage to consumers. The demand for food in increasing every year, which is why farmers have proposed to increase their performance volumes in harvests; not an easy task, taking into account that weather conditions are changing and pests are present more intensely and frequently.
For each farming season, companies seek to implement different activities to prevent, control and eliminate pests that affect their crops or working areas. These are found as weeds, insects, bacteria, fungi, parasites, birds, or any organism that negatively affects the production. An Integrated Pest Management (IPM) consists of seeking and applying different control strategies in order to “Preserve an economically-acceptable level” of the damage caused by diseases and pests. These forms of control are: crop control, biological control, mechanical control, and finally, chemical control. It is also important to take under consideration the information from previous seasons; for example: high and low temperatures, the presence of pests and diseases, or the timelines in which they appear, that is, the months or under which conditions, in order to know in advance the appearance of these diseases and pests.
The use of tools, products and activities that minimize damage to the environment is what is being used today. For example: the use of living organisms for natural control of pests and diseases, and repellents bases on plant extracts. There is first-world commercial production of these products. As a last resource, some authorized pesticides can be used.
What is a pesticide?
According to the EPA (U.S Environmental Protection Agency), pesticide is defined as “any substance or mixture of substances intended for preventing, destroying, repelling, or mitigating any pest. Any substance or mixture of substances intended for use as a plant regulator, defoliant, or desiccant.”
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations says pesticide “is a substance or mixture of substances intended for preventing, destroying or controlling any pest, including vectors of human or animal disease, unwanted species of plants or animals capable of causing damage or otherwise interfere with any other way with the production, processing, storage, transportation or commercialization of food, other farming products, wood and its derivatives or animal food, or that may be applied to animals to control insects, arachnids or other pests in their organisms”.
It is interesting to learn that, with regards to pesticide classification, there are many ways to do so, and in this sense, depending on the classification, two different products may be under the same category or be diametrically opposed in another classification.
Pesticides may be classified according to their use in:
- Farming: Use in farming production systems and in plant-based products and byproducts.
- Forestry: Use in forests and woods.
- Livestock: Use in animals or intensive/extensive production of animals.
- Urban: Exclusive use in urban and industrial areas, drainage, irrigation canals, lakes and dams.
- Gardening: Use in gardens and ornamental plants.
- Domestic: Use indoors.
- Biocide: It is used to control microorganisms in processes or products in the chemical industry.
- Public health: They are used to control insect vectors of human diseases.
Today, we will only discuss the pesticides for Farming use, that is, plant health products, also called agrochemicals or plant health products, which are classified according to the following:
- According to the pest it controls
- Insecticide – Insects
- Acaricide – Acarus
- Nematicide – Nematodes
- Fungicide – Fungi
- Herbicide – Weed
- Molluscicides – Molluscs
- Rodenticide – Rodents
- Bactericidal – Bacteria
- According to its chemical group
- Organochlorides: They generally act by contact or ingestion with greater persistence. Their use has been gradually reduced due to the fact that they accumulate in fatty or adipose tissue, incorporating them into the food chain. An example of this: endosulfan.
- Organophosphates: They have a shorter persistence than organochlorides but greater toxicity to mammals. These can act by contact, systemic, fumigant or stomach. Examples of these are: dimethoate, fenitrothion, malathion, monocrotophos, and profenophos.
- Carbamates: Similar to organophosphates in their biological action mode. They have a wide range of toxicity levels in mammals and biological properties. Examples of them are: aldicarb, bendiocarb, carbaryl, methomyl, pirimicarb, and propoxur.
- Pyrethroids: They have a lower toxicity to mammals than the other groups, but are toxic to fish, and reduce the appetite in insects. Examples of them are: cypermethrin, deltamethrin, fenvalerate, lambda cyhalothrin, and permethrin.
- Dipyryls: They are irritants and include paraquat, diquat etc.
- Biological: They come from living microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi, viruses or nematodes. May include the microorganism or its metabolites, formulated or with pesticides, which are able to control a pest in particular.
- According to its formulation
- Technical powder
- Wettable powder
- Soluble powder
- Dispersible granules
- Tablets or pills
- Sprinkling powder
- Emulsifiable concentrates
- Miscible liquids
- Other formulations
- Bags soluble in water
- Gases (pesticides)
- For its mode of action
- By contact: It acts mostly by penetrating and is absorbed by the integument of the insect.
- By ingestion: For its effective action, it must be ingested by the pest.
- Systemic: When applied to plants, they are absorbed and moved to sites far from the point of application. Some of them are moved upwards, some downwards, and some in both ways.
- Defoliants: They cause the fall of the foliage (leaves) from plants.
- Repellents: These are substances that, when applied to plants, make the pest reject posing or feeding out of them, or the feeding rate becomes reduced.
- Currently, it is intended that more and more farmers choose to apply more environmentally friendly methods. The use of organic products or bio-products that helps us keeping these negative factors under control while the production is maintained or increased. We are aware that the use of chemical elements (fertilizers and pesticides) is necessary for immediate control, but we must use them responsibly.
The use of pesticides is not limited, as long as they are used responsibly, applying products approved by a competent entity and be compliant with the provisions indicated on their labels or technical data sheets. It is important to follow the recommendations of professionals. The use of pesticides/agrochemicals should be the last choice for pest and disease control.
This is why at Eleven Rivers, through internal audits, we evaluate this issue from the storage, handling and use, with the purpose of preventing and protecting human health, animal health and the environment within the companies making up the Veggies From Mexico community.