Toxic pesticides are a big problem for the cannabis industry. Every state that legalized marijuana has faced this issue and keeps on dealing with it even despite the regulations on cultivation.
The reason pesticides are so popular is that they allow solving the pests problem in a fast and efficient way. The larger the cannabis garden, the more are the chances to encounter insects that can destroy a significant part of the crop or even the whole harvest. Who would ever want to risk like that?
The pesticide problem is a quite big one. For istance, according to a recent report, 84% of cannabis samples that were tested by Steep Hill (a marijuana analysis company) in one of its labs would not meet Oregon's standards. And since the regulations in Oregon are considered to be the strictest in the country, and therefore, Oregon’s weed is known to be the safest, we can only imagine what the situation is in other states.
Still, there are many proponents of softening pesticide regulations. Pesticides and insecticides have proven their efficacy, they are easy to use and not difficult to get. However, the effect of such chemicals can be really dramatic. In some cases it can affect a consumer immediately (mostly by causing an allergic reaction), but more often, the toxins tend to accumulate in the body and damage health slowly yet dramatically.
Some pesticides can be relatively safe for humans however even these chemicals can transform into extremely toxic substances upon combustion. And when it comes to consuming cannabis, this factor is essential.
Moreover, there are many chemicals whose effect on the human body is still unknown. This lack of data add an additional layer to the potential danger of indiscriminate pesticide use. However, the problem with pests needs to be solved. If not with toxins, then how else can we solve it?
Luckily, there is also a biological way of solving the pest problem. Biological pesticides might work slower than chemical ones, and they are definitely less popular (as of today), but they are efficient and absolutely safe for human health. Primarily, we are talking about using natural predators for pest control.
The key moment is pest identification. To know which predator could solve the problem, you need to know which insect has attacked your plants. What you also need to find out is whether it is really a pest infestation and not some disease that causes the problem. A usual magnifying glass or a microscope can help you with this issue.
Once the problem is identified, you need to find an insect that is appropriate for your situation. For instance, a predatory mite Amblyseius andersoni hunts broad mites, russet mites, or spiders. You can simply unleash them go on your plants, and the mites will locate the pests by themselves. Hunting for prey, they will eradicate all the harmful insects that damage your plants. These predators may be tiny, they may work relatively slow, but you can be sure they can eliminate the pest problem not only in your garden but in the whole cannabis industry.
There are several companies that try to help find a safe alternative to toxic pesticides that are used today in the agricultural industry. Natural Enemies is one of these companies. It was founded by Shane Young back in 2014 after managing cultivation programs for eight years. Young saw how aggressive could pesticides be, so he decided to find an alternative to chemical toxins.
Finally, his experiments led him to the idea of using beneficial insects and parasites that can naturally eliminate pest problems all while causing no damage to either plants or humans. When Young saw that this method could really make a change in the cannabis industry, he launched Natural Enemies.
One of the biggest benefits of chemical pesticides is their relative versatility: one toxin can destroy several kinds of pests. Predatory mites are mostly prey-specific, that is why it is often not enough to just apply “the cure” to the garden, a grower can need some initial consultations and guidance.
In some cases, a grower can identify the pests single-handed, but if they do not want to make a mistake, it may be wiser to invite an entomologist to pinpoint the problem. A specialist can advise on the type and quantity of predator insects to apply to the garden. Sometimes, applying several types of mites simultaneously can be more beneficial than maintaining focus on only one kind of predators. The optimal quantity of mites can also vary, depending on whether you want to prevent or control a pest infestation.
It may seem that the fuss is too big, but the benefits are bigger. Not only, as previously explained, this method does not damage the human health, it is also very safe for the environment (toxic chemicals can often spoil soil and water). Additionally, biological control helps plants become stronger and produce larger yields. Every application of toxins creates a small to medium stress on plants which, in its turn, disrupts plant growth. Beneficial insects have none of these disadvantages.
“They ask me, why would I buy mites if I’m trying to get rid of mites?” Young laughs. This kind of questions appear only due to lack of information about natural pest control. Not all insects are harmful for plants, and that is what companies like Natural Enemies try to explain to cannabis growers. Despite skepticism, natural control has absolutely no negative impact on plants, in fact, it affects your crop only in a positive way. And it is up to every grower to choose either “traditional” toxic process or safe and natural one.
American regulations on pesticide control are not as strict as, for instance, Dutch ones, but their goal is still to provide consumers with products that are as clean as possible. Chemical-free pest management can make the life of growers much easier and more stress-free. Why worry about failing lab tests if you simply do not need to apply any chemicals to your crop? If the plants are protected from pests by little friendly insects, both consumers and growers can benefit from it.