When the soil is in balance and healthy, when the soil microbial life is thriving and
making available to the plant roots those minerals and micronutrients they need, the plant
itself is healthy. When the plant is as healthy as it should be, there is no need for
insecticides because the plant itself will fight off this predator! Shocking, eh?! I can
see the so-called "Agriculture experts" laughing and imagining hordes of
Colorado Potato Beetles (CPB) invading such a field. After all, "they" have been
well conditioned to believe that theirs is the only way to farm!
In "Ecological Agriculture", the aim is to bring back health to the soil
life. But why is it that we "need" to bring "it" back? Because it was
taken away, depressed, put down and totally discounted as important to crop production.
One way to check and endeavour to improve the plants health is by checking the
percentage of sucrose or degree of Brix content of the plants own juices. We extract
some juice from the plant (leaf and/or stalk) and measure the amount of dissolved solids
and sugar in that juice. The higher the Brix content, the healthier the plant! In most
chemical intensive and short rotation potato fields these days, one can usually expect a
Brix of 3 (poor health) to 5 (average but still unhealthy). When you check a potato plant
grown under good conditions where soil life is healthy and the mineral content is
sufficient and bio-available, we can see that the Brix is higher.
When you get a potato that shows a Brix of 8 or more, this is a different animal
altogether. When you get to a Brix of 10 and 12, CPBs dont bother it. Why? Because
there is a "check and balance" built in with Nature. A really healthy plant (not
the one that just looks good to the Agriculture-rep and/or the farmer driving by quickly
in a pick-up truck), has a sugar content high enough that even if the CPB tries to eat it,
that sugar will turn to alcohol inside the insects stomach and it will die of
(photo: Consumers Association of Canada)
The way Nature has evolved and established balances is such that every species has its
own niche and reason for being. Nature is not perfect; it constantly evolves and
establishes new balances until it reaches some degree of equilibrium (and we humans are
part of that process, at least the animal part of us is). The CPB, like many insect
species, is a predator whose job it is to eliminate "that which is weak and should
not reproduce", much like the wolf and coyote go for the weak animal in the herds
before considering the healthy ones. Plants under stress exude a "stress
ethanol" that enables insects to home in on the weak and attack it.
I always get a kick from the farmers who tell me that the CPB is "out to get
them" and must be killed at "all cost" (and " pay" they do!).
After talking for a while, most of them will have a tale about this field that grandpa
never put fertilizers in, or that never had potatoes, or hasn't seen potatoes for 10 years
or more, etc. And theyll say that they planted potatoes there and, lo and behold,
there were no CPBs there, or so few that it wasn't worth spraying. In the next field, the
CPB had just about wiped out the crop and/or they had to spray quite a bit to save it.
They cant understand why (and sadly, many don't try) the CPB ignored that
neighboring field full of lush potato plants. Sadly, if Monsanto and the official
"Agriculture reps" told them why, they might listen, but herein lies the trick!
Monsanto sold them lots of chemicals over the years; now its trying to appear
"green" by selling farmers a genetically modified potato that contains a BT gene
(Bacillus Thuringiensis) to make the CPB sick and to kill it and then make the claim that
farmers won't have to use that "bad insecticide" anymore! There is no need for
that BT potato in the first place; there never was!! All that is needed is for potato
growers to "grow up" and realize that they have to take back their farms well in
hand and to stop relying on big business for advice on how to grow their own crops.
Thats the farmers job. Industry has succeeded, with the help of Agriculture
Departments people trained by colleges "it" funded, in "dumbing
down" the farmer and getting him to rely on outside "solutions" (pun
The farmer is probably one of the most intelligent people on this Earth. My
favorite definition of "Intelligence" is "the ability to use and plan the
use of all of those things available for the purpose at hand". The farmer has to do
this all the time while factoring in variables such weather, season, seeds, livestock,
breeding time, plowing, sowing, harvesting, and the list goes on and on.
Especially since WWII, industry has capitalized on this by telling the farmer:
"Dont worry about this or that, we have the solution for you to save you time
and money"(HA!). Rural people tend to be trusty and so relied on the information they
were given by the so-called "educated" people. Well, no more (I hope)! Now that
farmers are becoming more educated and understand that industry is just in it for the
money, one can only hope that they will take back their farms before its too late
and before the Monsantos of the world have complete control of our food system! As a
farmer put it: " The BT Potato is just about as necessary as a teat on a boar