Editors Note

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DDT is among the more controversial chemicals out there. Developed during World War 2 to combat malaria, typhus and bubonic plague, it was also widely used as an insecticide.

Unfortunately, it came with a lot of now notorious side-effects. The SABC notes that "people exposed to DDT while working with the chemical or by accidental exposure report a prickling sensation of the mouth, nausea, dizziness, confusion, headache, lethargy, incoordination, vomiting, fatigue, and tremors". Animals are also affected. In the USA, the bald eagle only started to return in numbers after DDT was banned. DDT is not used for agricultural pest control in South Africa but is used in Limpopo against malaria. Nowadays, farmers increasingly recognise the value of natural forms of pest control. Benign predators, ranging from your childhood friend the ladybird to bats, wasps and other creatures, are extremely effective against insect pests. Then there are the biorationals: naturally derived microbials, organic acids, plant extracts, pheromones, minerals, barriers and other active ingredients. As demand for pesticide-free fruit and vegetables rises around the world, so too does the importance of natural pest control increase.

Of course, as always in agriculture, it's necessary to take a balanced, level-headed approach. It's not simply about throwing out the chemicals and turning back to nature: it requires an integrated pest control plan that carefully assesses the needs of a particular farming set-up. This issue of Harvest SA features a number of expert contributions on the topic, which are sure to be a rewarding read.

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