Scale level :
Definition :

Biocontrol comprises using living organisms or natural substances to prevent or reduce damage caused by harmful organisms (animal pests, weeds and pathogens). There are 4 categories of approaches to biological control based on the use of control agents such as:

  • macro-organisms (insects, nematodes),
  • micro-organisms (viruses, bacteria or fungi),
  • chemical mediators (pheromones),
  • natural substances of mineral, plant or animal origin.

Over time, there has been three types of biological control. The eldest is the one by acclimation / introduction consisting of introducing a pest’s natural enemy, taken from its original habitat. Augmentative control is based on large-scale releases or on inoculation of control agents when the target population is important. The most recent, Conservation biocontrol, maintains biodiversity by habitat conservation. It ensures the provision of very diversified biological reservoirs in agricultural areas.

A European regulation, EC Regulation n°1107/2009, was established to reinforce the level of protection of human and environmental health, to simplify regulatory procedures in the EU and to introduce new procedures to promote the use of natural or low-risk products in crop protection. It defines new substance categories: basic substances (to date, chitosan hydrochloride and horsetail) and low-risk substances (none at present).

Biocontrol involves acquiring new techniques and requires, for the farmer, to be accompanied by an advisory service, a research organization, an experimental network, or a Chamber of Agriculture. Biotic risks must be assessed for a given field in order to define which prophylactic measures must be taken. These strategic measures can be completed by tactic measures. Chemical control should be avoided by all means and considered only as a very last resort.

All agricultural sectors can benefit from the use of biocontrol products, making biocontrol a booming sector.

Published on 06 March 2019

Bibliographic references :

Pedro Barbosa. 1998. Conservation Biological Control: 1st edition. Academic Press. 396p. Hardcover ISBN: 9780120781478

Deguine J.-P., Gloanec C., Laurent P., Ratnadass A., Aubertot J.-N. (eds.). 2017. Agroecological crop protection. Springer. p. 246.

Alan Kergunteuil, Moe Bakhtiari, Ludovico Formenti, Zhenggao Xiao, Emmanuel Defossez, Sergio Rasmann. Biological Control beneath the Feet: A Review of Crop Protection against Insect Root Herbivores. Insects, 7(4), 70;

Morin L, Reid A.M., Sims-Chilton N.M., Buckley Yvonne., Dhileepan Kunjithapatham., Hastwell G.T., Nordblom Thomas., Raghu S. 2009. Review of approaches to evaluate the effectiveness of weed biological control agents. Biological Control. 51. pp1-15. DOI:10.1016/j.biocontrol.2009.05.017.

Alemu Nega. 2014. Review on Concepts in Biological Control of Plant Pathogens. Biology agriculture and healthcare, vol 4, n°27.pp 33-54.

To quote this definition or part of it :
Marieke Busson, Julien Chetty, Marie-Hélène Robin, Jean-Noël Aubertot. 2019. Biocontrol : Definition. Dictionnaire d'Agroecologie,

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