For the most part, the organic farmers experienced
very few, if any, insect and disease problems. It is quite possible that
pests are kept in check by the ecosystem that evolves on an organic farm&emdash;buffer
strips provide habitat for beneficials and clover offers a food source
for beneficials. Four-year crop rotations may well interrupt the life
cycle of certain insect pests, and the very mix of crops grown in such
a rotation provides ecological diversity. Recent research at The Ohio
State University's research facility in Wooster is confirming a basic
tenet of organic farming&endash; a healthy soil promotes the growth
of healthy plants that are, in turn, less susceptible to insect and disease
Each farmer was asked specifically, "Do you have insect problems?" Ron
G. "No, we really don't. I can't recall
any type of insect problem we've ever experienced."
Byron K. "Not
very much. When I was doing alfalfa I virtually had no problems."
Lynn W. "We really
haven't had too much trouble with insects. This year we've seen some
Japanese beetles in the beans and in the corn, too, a little but not
enough to cause a big problem."
Nelson W. "One
of the biggest problems I have is the alfalfa leafhopper. If you get
plenty of rain it's not a problem, but with a long dry spell the leaf
hoppers will cut my alfalfa yield back for maybe one cutting. But then
later on it will pick up again, so I don't worry about it too much."
Geoff M. "No.
I had them in the conventional acreage last year, spider mites. I don't
see any insect problems in the organic."
Jeff D. "Not until
last year. We had some in the beans. I think it was bean beetles that
carried in some disease or fungus and may have reduced yield by 5 percent,
but the drought may have also have been the cause. The corn borer is
not really a problem, maybe one year in ten. Other than that I haven't
seen any problems."
Steve B. "It has
never been a problem until maybe last year. We saw a lot more chewing
on the bean pods that we've had in the past. We had both Japanese beetles
and bean beetles out there but who was doing the most damage, I'm not
sure. As far as other insects, we don't have any problems."
Dean Mc. "No,
not really. We see insects in our fields, but none that are damaging
the plants. I see signs of spider mites and leaf damage in other peoples'
crops but not here."
With the one exception, all of the farmers reported that they have no
problems with plant diseases.