Ask a Specialist Answer
Should I hire a pest management service for my on-farm crop storage?
You would have to crunch the numbers to determine the financial impact of the pests and how much it will cost to pay for a company to take care of them for you. If you have had major pest issues that you haven’t been able to control on your own, then going with a pest control company might be the best bet—but you will still be responsible for the organic integrity of your operation. It will be important to clearly communicate to the company what the organic regulations are and how they will work in your context.
Whether you decide to go with a company or do the work yourself, you’ll need to have your certifier approve your pest management plan before you implement it.
The plan has to start with the “least toxic, most effective” means of controlling the pest. The first practical step, as it says in the facility pest management practice standard (§205.271), is to remove pest habitat, food sources, and breeding areas, try your best to prevent pests from entering the facility, and manage environmental factors. Pests can also be controlled using mechanical/physical means, like snapping mouse traps for example. When I worked in certification, I often saw cats and dogs listed in the facility pest management section of Organic System Plans.
If none of that works, you can use natural lures or repellents (or synthetic ones that are on the National List of approved synthetics). Vitamin D3 baits are one example of products that fit into that category. The OMRI certificates of vitamin D3 products include this restriction: “For use as a pesticide only in conjunction with the facility pest management practices provided for in paragraphs 205.271(a) and (b) and only if those practices are not effective to prevent or control pests alone.” So basically, if you can’t keep pests out and mechanical means of taking care of them are ineffective, you can use this product with approval from your certifier.
If restricted products like that don’t work, then you can go to synthetic products that are not on the National List as long as your plan is approved by your certifier. A synthetic substance may be used provided that “the handler and certifying agent agree on the substance, method of application, and measures to be taken to prevent contact of the organically produced products or ingredients with the substance used.” After you’ve shown that your previous steps weren’t effective, your plan and the specific product must be approved by your certifier. No matter what, you have to keep the pest control product away from your stored organic crops, organic land, and organic animals.
Posted: Oct 2019
Answer By: Chuck Anderas