Organic pest and disease control

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Zasso Nouka
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Organic pest and disease control

Post by Zasso Nouka » Thu Oct 08, 2015 7:57 am

We have fought some tough battles with insects and diseases on our farm so I thought I'd share some of the things we've learned and see what other folk use.

First up. They say prevention is better than cure so with that in mind I'd suggest as a first line of defence insect netting. A mesh size of 0.6mm will keep even kisujinomihamushi out, anything larger will let these little devils in and then they are in paradise with the netting keeping predators out. Burying the edges of the netting is recommended and the following video shows how to use it.



Various widths can be ordered online, here are a few suppliers

Agriz.net

Amazon

This netting pretty much keeps all pest out but does have some drawbacks during the rainy season, because it reduces airflow slightly some crops are at an increased risk of fungal diseases. The netting also gives a small degree of frost protection but won't protect against a really heavy frost.

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Re: Organic pest and disease control

Post by gonbechan » Thu Oct 08, 2015 11:37 am

I need something for little green skinny inchworm things that ate all my basil.
I have given up for the year but need to be forearmed for the Spring.

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Re: Organic pest and disease control

Post by Zasso Nouka » Thu Oct 08, 2015 2:10 pm

You have a couple of option there Gonbechan,

If it's just a few plants fingers are probably the best method, costs you nothing. Next option would be Bacillus thuringiensis, it is very specific and only affects caterpillars and does not affect any beneficial insects at all. It is a completely natural soil dwelling micro organism and very safe to use, unless you are part caterpillar that is. One of the reasons Bt is so safe is that it has to be consumed by the caterpillar to have any effect, if the spray lands on any insects (caterpillars included) it is completely harmless and as B. Thuringiensis is a natural soil dwelling microbe if you were to consume some on a freshly picked vegetable it would be no more harmful than eating some soil on a freshly picked carrot or potato.

Spray in the evening as Bt is broken down by sunlight, that way it will be consumed by the caterpillars during the night. Soon after eating the caterpillars will stop eat and die shortly afterwards. You can also use Bt to control nekirimushi, mix some up with rice bran and molasses and place near where you suspect nekirimushi to be. They will make a bee line for it and enjoy the lovely feast you've laid out for them. Sadly for them it will be the last thing they eat. Works best of you are using a mulch as that will protect the Bt from sunlight and it will last a lot longer.

Small amounts are available here

Bashi Rex

Impressions

Larger field size amounts are available from your local Taneya-san, online or

Nihon Nogyou System

You could also use neem but I'll cover that in another post.

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Re: Organic pest and disease control

Post by gonbechan » Sat Oct 10, 2015 8:58 am

Thanks Zasso, arriving tomorrow.

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Re: Organic pest and disease control

Post by Zasso Nouka » Sun Oct 11, 2015 10:16 am

I hope that sorts your problem out.

There is another option for biological control of problem insect on plants Botanigard, it is based around a pathogenic fungus beauveria bassiana that only affects insects. We have used this for several years running and it really does work, only a drop or two need to land on an insect to infect them and in Japan's warm humid climate it is particularly effective. In colony forming insects it works very well, even if you don't infect every individual when spraying it will rapidly spread through the entire colony.

There are few caveats when using Botanigard, it will affect all insects both good and bad so will just as readily kill beneficial insects. You really have to be careful when spray not to catch anything beneficial by accident and make sure not to spray any flowers because the fungal spores can then be transferred to bees and other pollinators.

Best times to spray are early evening, ideally after bees have finished visiting plants, that way the spores can gain a secure footing on the target insects overnight. The spores have to come in direct contact with an insect to infect them so it is no good just spraying the leaves of the plants and hoping it will work, you need to really drench the area to ensure it gets onto the pest insects. The danger to bees arises because they could land on a flower that still contains droplets of the spray and touch one of those drops and then become infected, once the spray has dried they are safe.

I was advised by the makers that the dry powder formulation was the best suited to the climate here in Japan as the oil used in the emulsified form can possibly damage leaves in very strong sunlight. Also the dry powder form has a much longer shelf life and can be frozen to extend that shelf life.

You can order Botanigard from your local Taneyasan or here

ボタニガード

It's not cheap.

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Re: Organic pest and disease control

Post by Zasso Nouka » Mon Oct 12, 2015 7:38 am

Diatomaceous earth is another naturally occurring substance that has a host of uses in pest prevention but can be harmful if inhaled so whenever working with it a mask is essential. Although it feels silky to the touch on a microscopic level it has many razor sharp edges. It works by dehydrating insects and also cutting their outer cuticle or if eaten by shredding their insides. DE has to be dry to work on the outsides of insects and is easily washed of by rain. In dry weather it will stay on the plant for several days or even a week providing protection.

All you have to do if dust some onto a plant you want to protect and any insects crawling on that plant will eventually die but this does mean it is not a very specific agent and will kill beneficial insects along with pests.

There are a host of other uses outside of plant protection, it can be used on pets to control fleas. We use it in our chicken house dusting it in all the nooks and crannies to control mites, it also can be mixed up into an emulsion and either sprayed on or painted onto surfaces to control insects crawling across them. We did try this in our underfloor area of the house but it didn't stop mukade, geji geji or gokiburi, I think for quite large insects it takes a while to kill them so they have plenty of time to come up into the house and give you a nasty fright but seems to stop smaller insects.

You can probably find it easily online or you can order from this company

Wakkanai Green Factory

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Re: Organic pest and disease control

Post by Makichan » Mon Oct 12, 2015 11:10 am

Hi Zasso Nouka,

I was wondering if you use Keisōdo on your pets will it cause them any breathing problems and can it be used on ants ?

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Re: Organic pest and disease control

Post by Zasso Nouka » Tue Oct 13, 2015 9:37 pm

Should be fine on pets Makichan,

silicosis normally takes several decades to emerge so your pets should be fine. For treating ants you can just puff it around their nest entrance or across a path they normally take.

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Re: Organic pest and disease control

Post by Zasso Nouka » Fri Oct 16, 2015 2:01 pm

Today's post will be about Neem, which is our favourite for healthy plants. In it's native India the neem tree is used for a whole host of things from tooth brushes made from small twigs, medicine for an upset stomach by chewing a few leaves, in Ayurvedic medicine and neem oil (ニームオイル) extracted from the fruit is used as an insect repellent/pesticide. Here in Japan you are not allowed to call neem oil a pesticide or even use it as such because it hasn't been put through the rigorous testing regimes agreed between the big agri-chemical companies and the government. However you can use it as a leaf polish (if you like clean leaves on your plants), you can use it as a health tonic (and who doesn't like healthy plants) or as a soil improver that you happen to spray onto the plants and then allow to drip onto the soil and thus improve it but you most certainly cannot call it a pesticide.

Neem works in a variety of ways, many insects find the smell of it repulsive, which is handy for keeping mosquito's off you but also repels most butterflies and other insects so they don't lay eggs or eat the plants, you can often see butterflies hovering over a treated plant trying to land but they quickly fly off before laying any eggs. Other insects find the taste unpleasant so won't eat your plants treated with neem oil, smaller insects such as aphids are smothered by the neem oil emulsion and suffocate. Because of this beneficial insects are unharmed by neem, neem oil also has some fungicidal and anti bacterial properties so may protect certain plants from disease.

To use neem oil you want to mix around 5ml of neem oil with 1ml of emulsifier (soap nut powder or a natural dish soap, not a detergent as that will damage the plants) and 1 litre of water. It helps if you initially mix the emulsifier and neem oil with a small quantity of warm water and then top that up to a litre with cold water. We normally mix up around 250 litres of spray at a time so use a bucket of warm water for the neem oil and washing up liquid and that is added to a large tank of cold water. If you had a really bad infestation on a plant "whose leaves you wanted to clean" (can't call it a pesticide) the amount of neem oil could be raised to 10ml of oil in every litre of water but do test that on a few leaves first before spraying the whole plant.

Neem does take several applications before it has built up to a level where it is effective and then requires regular applications to remain effective. Should it rain the neem can be washed from the plant so it is advisable to spray immediately after, because of this neem oil is largely ineffective during the rainy season. Ideally neem should be sprayed in the late afternoon or early evening, so that it is not exposed to strong sunlight as it is absorbed by the plants and will need reapplying at 5 - 7 day intervals.

Neem oil can be purchsed online in Japan but it is hideously expensive (around 10,000円 a litre) and it works out cheaper to bulk buy from and Indian producer and use slowly. Most neem oil will have a two year shelf life so think ahead when deciding how much to order. Importing via air is relatively straightforward as the courier company will do the customs clearance but importing larger quantities by ship can be a little more complex the first time. Subsequent imports go through relatively easily but you may get asked what the intended purpose is, try and keep a straight face when telling them that you like healthy shiny leaves on your plants and it will go through smoothly.

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Re: Organic pest and disease control

Post by Zasso Nouka » Tue Oct 20, 2015 7:21 am

One of the most insidious pests we've had to deal with is the nekirimushi (ネキリムシ) or cutworm, these caterpillars live just under the soil only emerging at night like some twisted vegetable destroying ninja. Typically you'll find your young veggies bitten off at soil level with the above ground part laying decapitated on the ground. This is what they look like with some typical damage.
ネキリムシ.jpg
ネキリムシ.jpg (19.09 KiB) Viewed 263 times
The normal advice for dealing with these little blighters is to place small collars on all your young plants until they are too large to be bothered by nekirimushi and then remove the collars. That might work on a very small scale but it's never going to work on a field of carrots or other large plantings. Or you can gently dig around a decapitated plant with your fingers looking for the culprit.

The answer ? Entomopathogenic nematodes, you spray these onto the soil you want to protect and they seek out soil dwelling pests like nekirimushi, beetle larva and others and kill them. The soil needs to be warm and wet so best times to apply the nematodes is during the rainy season in the early evening with rain forecast the next day. Once in the soil they will remain there for the rest of the growing season and there is some evidence they might persist even longer.

As these are a naturally occurring nematode already living in the soil there is absolutely no danger in using them, all you are doing is raising the numbers already in the soil.

Steinernema glaseri can be purchased in small amounts from

SDS Biotech

Or larger amounts can be ordered from your local taneyasan or

Nihon Nougyou Systems

and other online retailers.