Biologicals are a very impressive type of plant product that can do much of the same work as synthetic pesticides, insecticides and fungicides without the synthetic chemical composition.
But what exactly is a biological?
You might see the word "biological" on a lot of plant products when you walk through the pest and mold protection aisles at a garden store. However "Biologicals" is a general term for a wider range of "bio-" products.
What all biological products have in common, and what makes them so different from their synthetic counterparts, is their makeup of living organisms.
Another term you might hear tossed around synonymously with biologicals is "biorationals". However biorationals are more like a parent category that biologicals fit into. While biorationals typically are made of non-synthetic input from natural resources, biologicals on the other hand can also have synthetic inputs and still be called a biological, as long as it also has a living organism or microbial derivative in it.
But like we said, biological is a broad term for a group bio-products, and knowing about the differences can make picking the right product easier.
Biostimulants (or enhancers) are substances that enhance plant growth, health, and productivity or provide other direct or indirect benefits to a plant’s development.
Common examples of biostimulants would be products that contain amino acids, biofertilizers, biochemical materials, fulvic acid, microbial inoculants, and plant growth regulators.
Biostimulants that are not from microbial sources are considered to be biorationals.
Biopesticides are protectors. These products protect against or are used to directly control fungal and bacterial pathogens, insect pests, or weeds. This category is where you will find biofungicides and bioinsecticides, among other common biological products you might find at Cultivate.
All of these biological products wouldn't be, well, biological if they didn't have beneficial microorganisms in them.
Predominantly fungi like Mychorrizae or bacteria like Bacillus, these microorganisms may be free-living in the soil or in symbiotic associations with plants.
In return, the microorganisms benefit plants by protecting them against pathogens and pests. They help to increase plant root growth and improve soil structure. They also enhance nutrient availability and nutrient uptake.
Biologicals are great products that can be extremely effective. However due their microbial makeup, they tend to not work as quickly or effectively as their synthetic counterparts.
For this reason, biologicals are great in addition to your current Integrated Pest Management (IPM) system.
When used early on, the bacteria from your biologicals will have time to grow in relationship with your plants and protect them over time. Should you still have pest problems and you need a shorter re-entry time or pre-harvest interval, using synthetic products in unison with biologicals will always be more effective.