Plant protection is the practice of managing weather, weeds, pests and diseases that damage or inhibit the growth of fruit, vegetable and other horticultural crops.
Proper crop protection is important to produce higher quality crops with minimal wastage. This increase in productivity leads to less land, water and labour being required for food crops. With less land being used biodiversity is preserved and less greenhouse gases are emitted. It also ensures more food reaches the shops and markets in good condition, which helps to keep the prices down.
If we were to stop using some of the more common protection methods with our fruit and vegetable crops, there would be a lot less choice in the food available to buy on a local level. Global yields would drop by approximately one third. Vegetables we have become accustomed to or have taken for granted would only be readily available in certain regions. They would be available at exorbitant prices and questionable freshness and quality in others.
Methods Of Plant Protection
There are four main approaches to successful plant protection, each with varying degrees of success; pesticide based measures, biological pest control, barrier methods and animal psychology. Here is some brief information on each.
Pesticide Based measures are used to attract and/or destroy garden pests. There are three main methods in common practice; Herbicides are used to kill unwanted plants and weeds, Insecticides are used to kill insects, and Fungicides are used to kill fungi, some of which can cause serious damage to agriculture.
Biological pest control is the practice of controlling insects, weeds and diseases by using other living organisms. A ladybird population can be 'grown' or maintained to control aphids in the garden. Aphids are the most destructive pest to vegetable plants. Having a good population of beneficial insects will take alot of the hard work and heartache out of pest control.
Barrier methods are anything that effectively creates a barrier between plants and pests, weather or diseases. These include butterfly and bird netting, micromesh, garden fleece, plant collars and garden cloches. Electronic pest deterrents also fall under this category as they create an invisible barrier.
Animal psychology methods includes anything that deter pests, animals or birds using psychological methods. The most common example of this is the good old fashioned scarecrow, there are a wide variety of more modern bird scarers available.