In any outdoor farming system, including large greenhouses, pests and diseases are always prevalent. It also goes without saying that in closed-loop systems, the introduction of a pest would be disastrous if bio-security measures are not taken seriously. Like other conventional farms, pests can sometimes get in the way of our Modular Farmers and negatively affect the growth of plants in our purpose-built containers. To prevent such an occurrence from happening, it’s important to implement and utilize integrated pest management tools like Modular Farms’ internal environment controls. Pesticides are never used and are not recommended.
Recently in Australia, traditionally-farmed basil crops have been greatly affected by mildew. One of the benefits of Modular Farms is being able to control the spread of such diseases with pest management tools. While most, if not all, traditionally-farmed basil had been impacted, we at Modular Farms have been producing clean and mildew-free plants to our customers! By maintaining low relative humidity and good air flow within the farm through biological controls, we’re able to suppress the likelihood of pests and fungi growth.
Our Vestibule Module is a great first line of defense against pests. A clean room for visitors and farmers leads to laboratory-like sanitation. The second line of defence would be maintaining good farm practices (as outlined below) including regular cleaning of reservoirs, irrigation lines, seed trays, workstation and towers. Also, it’s essential to supervise the cultivars back canopy to ensure there’s no wilting plant matter or restricted air flow.
Based on Modular Farms’ research, the likelihood of having unwelcomed pests in a farm is substantially lower with a Vestibule Module. Only farms used for tours will see a slightly increased threat due to in-and-out foot traffic bringing pests into the farm.
The Vestibule Module works as a bridge unit add-on allowing farmers to walk from one module to another without altering the controlled temperature in each. Farmers can operate in different areas without stepping outside. This creates a climate barrier for crops by keeping outside air pollution and bugs away from crops, resulting in a more uniform and productive crop yield. Minimizing non-farmer foot traffic and having all visitors pass through the vestibule module will help to eliminate outside contaminants.
TYPES OF PEST CONTROL USED IN MODULAR FARMS
Biological pest control: uses the power of the pests’ natural enemies. The approach is to promote and introduce beneficial insects that eat or parasitize target pests. Biological insecticides also fall into this category. Examples include nematodes, ladybugs and midges. In our Toronto farm, we introduced nematodes to fight fungus gnats (common farm pest) and saw immediate success.
Mechanical pest control: uses hands-on methods when infestation is too extreme to manage by gradual change. There are three possible goals for this type of pest control: exclusion, destruction or removal. Techniques include hand-picking, setting traps (e.g. sticky traps), using barriers and vacuuming to hinder breeding potential.
Cultural pest control: uses mechanical controls which are applied specifically at a certain stage in a pest’s life cycle. It targets a pest’s weakened stage of life and aims to interrupt to stop further growth.
Chemical pest control: uses pesticides. This method is discouraged as we operate within a controlled environment. If pesticides are used, the internal ecosystem created could be permanently altered and/or even destroyed.
In Modular Farms systems, we are able to control our climate conditions and install strict biosecurity measures in place. Thus, there should be no introduction of pests or diseases other than via a contaminated seed – which is why buying seeds from reputable companies is important!
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