Resource Guide for Organic Insect and Disease Management

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Organic farmers rely primarily on preventive, cultural, and integrated methods of pest and disease management. Additionally, there are a number of materials that can complement and support organic management. This guide was developed to provide a useful and scientifically accurate reference for organic farmers and agricultural professionals who are searching for information on best practices, available materials, and perhaps most importantly, the efficacy of materials that are allowed for use in organic systems. Many products available to organic farmers have not been extensively tested, and current research has not been summarized or made widely available to the practitioner. A major objective of this guide is to review literature for published trials on material efficacy in order to provide reliable information that can be used by farmers to effectively manage pests. An additional goal is to identify what materials have shown promise but require more research.


Organic farmers and those in transition to organic production, extension professionals, and farm advisors who want accurate information based on published research.


The Guide is divided into three sections. The first section provides cultural information and management practices for a number of important vegetable crop groups. For each family, key pests and disease problems are described. Cultural methods and management practices that will help control each problem are listed, as well as materials that may be recommended for use.

The second section contains a set of generic fact sheets about specific materials that can be used in organic systems. The fact sheets provide background information about the type of material, how it is made, how it works, and the types of pests it will control. They also provide application guidelines for use and a description of the effects of each material on the environment and human health. Efficacy is summarized in text and with graphs based on data from trials reported in Arthropod Management Tests (Entomology Society of America), Plant Disease Management Reports (American Phytopathological Society), and other sources. Materials are rated and grouped into three categories of effectiveness: good, fair, and poor control. Replicated field trials on crops grown in the northeast are included. Results of studies in which a material was used in combination or alternating with another treatment could not be classified and are not included, even though in practice, such strategies may be effective.

The last section contains appendices with useful information about additional practices, such as plant resistance, trap cropping, habitats for beneficial insects, pesticide regulation, and additional resources.


  • Crop management practices for organic insect and disease control
    • Allium Crops
    • Brassica Crops
    • Chenopods: Spinach, Beets and Chard
    • Cucurbit Crops
    • Legume crops
    • Lettuce
    • Solanaceous Crops
    • Sweet Corn
    • Umbelliferous Crops
  • Photo pages
  • Material fact sheets
    • Bacillus subtilis
    • Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt)
    • Beauveria bassiana
    • Bicarbonate (Potassium or Sodium)
    • Coniothyrium minitans
    • Copper products
    • Hydrogen Peroxide, Hydrogen Dioxide
    • Kaolin clay
    • Neem (azadirachtin, neem oil, neem oil soap)
    • Oils
    • Pesticidal Soap
    • Pyrethrum
    • Rotenone
    • Spinosad
    • Streptomyces lydicus
    • Sulfur
    • Trichoderma and related genera of beneficial fungi
Brian Caldwell
Eric Sideman
Abby Seaman
Anthony Shelton
Christine Smart
Cornell University