The time is ripe for biologicals

As concerns about the environment and sustainability continue to grow,
now is the time to implement biological solutions on your farm.
Here’s how Madumbi can help.

As concerns about the environment and sustainability continue to grow,
now is the time to implement biological solutions on your farm.
Here’s how Madumbi can help.

This article appears in Farmers Weekly October 2020

Biological solutions (biologicals) have a critical role to play in integrated pest management (IPM) programmes. Biological products contribute to reducing, managing and minimising crop loss due to pest damage, and are also increasingly being applied to enhance soil, root and plant health. With the new growing season in full swing, more and more growers are looking for innovative, effective solutions that can be added to their existing programmes.Biological products have the great advantage of low to no residue levels. As maximum residue levels (MRLs) continue to make market access more difficult, growers are recognising the value of incorporating biologicals into IPM programmes sooner rather than later.“Biopesticides are no longer being seen or regarded as a soft option. They offer highly effective pest control options that are safe for the environment, filling the gaps created by banned chemical pesticides and contributing to reduced chemical residues,” says Michelle Lesur, managing director of Madumbi Sustainable Agriculture.

Biologicals are derived from living organisms and fall into four categories, namely:

  • Biostimulants: natural plant growth stimulants impacting plant growth.
  • Semiochemicals: natural insect pheromones used as attractants for mating disruption.
  • Microbials: micro-organisms with pest or disease control qualities, such as fungi.
  • Macrobials: predators that can reduce crop pests.

Microbial products used to reduce pests or diseases are more commonly known as biopesticides. Biopesticides require the same stringent tests as chemical solutions and must be registered before they can be legally be sold or used.


Biologicals are used on a wide range of conventional and organically grown crops, including on fruit, vegetables, tree nuts, row and field crops. Farmers can apply biologicals with the same equipment used for chemical applications directly onto plants, into the soil or as a seed treatment. Due to biologicals containing living organisms, they may be impacted by age, temperature, UV exposure and pH.

Correct handling and application are critical to efficacy.


As biologicals are living organisms, they degrade rapidly and do not linger in the environment. Biologicals are also often exempt from MRLs. Biologicals have multiple modes of action that differ from those of chemical products and offer a valuable tool in terms of pesticide resistance management. The strategic inclusion of biologicals into IPM programmes provides growers with greater flexibility to implement on-farm decisions as each season dictates.

Biologicals have minimal to no withholding periods. This allows them to be applied pre- and during harvesting, when chemical pesticides are no longer an option.

Despite this, today’s bio-pesticides are still regarded to provide lower levels of control with more variability than their chemical counterparts, particularly when pest pressure is high. 

This emphasises the importance of a good IPM programme, which combines the ‘best of both’ to ensure the benefits of the biologicals are maximised without compromising crop health, yield and quality.

Spearheading biologicals locally is Hilton-based Madumbi Sustainable Agriculture, market leaders in biomanagement and biostimulant crop solutions.

To support growers of all crops on its biological solutions, the Madumbi Connect to Grow app is now available to download from Google Play and the Apple App store.