A growing number of farmers are managing agricultural pests with biopesticides and biological control agents, including natural materials such as plants, bacteria, and fungi. Predatory and parasitic insects are a form of biological control. All these methods work to keep pest levels low enough to minimize crop losses without posing a major threat to the environment.
Demand for produce free of pesticides is driving the increase in biopesticides, says Mark David of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. Biopesticides are inherently less harmful to humans and break down more quickly than typical agrochemicals. According to David, some beneficial fungi even go beyond pest killing by liberating soil nutrients that promoted plant growth.