In agriculture, horticulture and forestry, beneficial species are organisms that decimate pests, but also have other valuable, yield-increasing or stabilising functions. Today, they are also used in intensive crop cultivation as a cost-efficient and environmentally friendly solution for sustainable production.
Biological crop protection is part of an integrated approach in which the potential of microorganisms and insects for the reduction of chemical pest control agents is systematically used. Especially in greenhouse cultivation, the use of many beneficial species to control pests is an accepted standard. In organic farming, chemical pesticides cannot be used, that‘s why the targeted use of beneficial organisms has a long tradition there.
If the naturally occurring beneficial insect populations are not sufficient, farmers can use numerous beneficial insects to treat crops. They are proliferated in large scale in companies and offered for this purpose.
Examples of microorganisms and invertebrates used specifically in crop protection are:
• Parasites that develop in their host and usually kill it like ichneumon flies
• Predators that feed on living animals, such as spiders, Mesostigmata or green lacewing larvae
• Pathogens or antagonists cause diseases that usually kill their host, such as bacteria,
fungi or viruses
National Action Plan on sustainable use of Plant Protection Products
In order to reduce the risks of chemical plant protection for humans and animals as well as the ecosystem, the German government initiated the National Action Plan for Plant Protection (NAP) in 2013. The Working Group on Plant Protection and Biodiversity is an expert group within the NAP. It accompanies and evaluates the NAP in the field of biological diversity and develops proposals for fields of action and measures.
Demonstration farms enable the transfer of important research results into practice in relation to the sustainable use of plant protection products. The achievement of the action plan will be verified by means of 28 indicators. Results from the indicator system are regularly presented in a summary overview as the German Plant Protection Index.
Julius Kühn Institute (JKI) Federal Research Center for Cultivated Plants
JKI researches and evaluates biological plant protection methods. In irregular intervals, it publishes the status report on biological plant protection , a comprehensive compilation of the status of biological pest management in Germany.
Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR)
The BfR was founded to strengthen consumer protection. It is independent in its scientific evaluation. The main task of the BfR is to evaluate possible health risks of pesticides and other substances and thus to advise the federal ministries scientifically in their political decisions.