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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Biocontrol FAQs for Kids

Keeping Plants Healthy

What Can Be Done

 

Change the environment

  • Clean up dead and sick plants so the pathogens don't have anything to grow on
  • Plant crops that do not easily get the disease (scientists call them resistant plants)
  • Cover the soil for a while with plastic so that the sun heats the soil and the pathogens can't live
Cartoon, green tractor

Tractors can turn the soil over so the pathogens cannot live

Use chemicals for control

  • Chemicals that kill the pathogens can be mixed into the soil but...
  • Sometimes they are dangerous to use
  • They kill the good microorganisms and well as the bad
  • Sometimes they get into our food and water and that is not good
  • Sometimes the pathogens get used to the chemicals and they don't work any more
Cartoon, beaker with skull and crossbones - poison!

Sometimes the only thing that works is chemicals

Use biocontrol agents (BCAs) for control

  • Biocontrol agents live in the soil anyway
  • They are safe to use, they are not poisons and do not harm our food and water
  • The pathogens do not become "resistant"
cartoon of laboratory dishes with biocontrol agents in them

Or use more than one way

  • Use IPM (stands for Integrated Pest Management) and it means to use more than one way to control plant problems so that we do the smallest amount of harm to our planet and give the plant its best chance to grow and live
Animated image of laboratory beaker


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Last Modified: 12/17/2009