Future Pesticides Won't Be Pesticides At All | Omega

After her presentation at the 2013 Omega Center for Sustainable Living Conference: Where We Go From Here, biomimicry pioneer Janine Benyus sat down with Omega to talk about how future farmers will be helping plants help themselves.

Omega: In your talk, you said the pesticides of the future will not be chemical pesticides, but "helping the helpers." What does that mean?

Janine: It's really a biomimetic way of looking at how to manage pests. That’s what organisms do. They don’t eliminate pest, they manage them. 

What we will do is look to organisms that are doing very well—plants that are not really suffering as a result of pests or have a low level of pests. What we used to do is look at those plants and say, “Gosh, how are you doing that?”  Now what we’re increasingly doing is saying, “Let’s look at the soil around your roots.” What we find there is a whole community of organisms, fungi, and bacteria who are called in by the plant. They actually are helping to protect the plant from root diseases; they’re also helping to turn on certain plant defenses.  

In the future, I think that we’re really talking about how do we steward soil and not just soil as the crumbly stuff you think of or even the organic matter, but how do we steward the microbial community at the root level? That means putting in soil amendments, for instance. You may just simply be helping to create the conditions conducive to those helpers. Maybe you help by helping to increase the alkalinity of the soil or whatever. What it’s going to be is allowing plants to have access to these microbial helpers. The plants will call them in.

© 2013 Omega Institute for Holistic Studies

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