Does Permaculture Use Pesticides?

Permaculture discourages the use of chemical pesticides due to the potential harm to the environment. Many monoculture systems create the perfect conditions for pests to thrive, requiring high amounts of chemical treatments.

Permaculture aims to adopt polycultures, which destroy the mechanisms that support pests. Integrating different species facilitates interactions with organisms and plants, creating a balanced ecosystem where pests cannot thrive. Instead, permaculture allows the flourishing of beneficial organisms such as pollinators, nitrogen fixers and natural predators. 

The dangers of synthetic pesticides

green and yellow tractor on dirt
Photo by Mark Stebnicki on

Synthetic pesticides contain elements such as chlorine, nitrogen, phosphorus, Sulphur and bromine and heavy metals such as mercury, arsenic and lead. These chemicals are harmful to the environment in various ways.

Modern farming requires the widespread use of synthetic pesticides to ensure high yields. When pesticides are applied on agricultural lands, they can come into contact with natural resources, gradually leading to environmental degradation.

When heavy rainfall or winds occur, pesticides can spread into the air, soil, and water thus contaminating them. Permaculture, however, aims to avoid using such pesticides, instead relying on evolutionary relationships between plants and animals as natural pest controls. 

Pest control in Permaculture

Natural pest control is encouraged in permaculture. For instance, a farmer can introduce ladybugs into the garden to control the spread of aphids. This is less energy intensive and inexpensive compared to the use of chemical pesticides. Further, natural pest controls help to maintain the natural relationships in the local ecosystem and thus support sustainable production. 

close up photo of ladybug on leaf during daytime
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Widespread use of chemicals can lead to resistance against pesticides. Therefore, a farmer could end up with a population of pesticide-resistant organisms, which will significantly affect the yield. Additionally, pesticides also kill beneficial animals such as ladybugs.

One of the main goals of permaculture is to encourage helpful organisms to work harmoniously with nature. Adopting natural pest controls is more effective and efficient as it ensures that you protect the ecosystem and ensure consistent production. 

A key feature of the permaculture approach is soil enrichment. It is necessary to facilitate microbial balance in the soil to enhance your plants’ productivity and prevent the spread of harmful organisms.

Nematodes are an example of tiny organisms detrimental to modern agricultural production. They are parasitic organisms that feed on living matter. Chemicals can control them, but this can impact beneficial animals. The mixed crops in permaculture, coupled with rich organic soil, will protect the system from nematode attacks due to the natural regulatory mechanisms of the diverse microorganisms in the ground. 

Products used in permaculture

You can use organic products for pest control and to enrich the soil in a permaculture system. Animal waste, rotting plant remains, and food waste can function as natural fertilizers in permaculture. 

earthworms on moist dirt ground
Photo by Antony Trivet on

Integrated pest management methods, in place of chemicals, are the best option for permaculture. Companion planting, growing perennials and installing bird feeders on your farm are all measures to control pests. Mulching, wildflower meadows and ornamental grasses also support small beneficial insects, such as spiders which feed on harmful pests.

Plants that attract beneficial insect predators include marigolds, yarrow, dill, mint, chrysanthemums, clover, zinnia, chamomile, sunflower and buckwheat. Crop rotation is also essential in pest management and maintenance of good soil health. 

Pot Marigold (Calendula officinalis)
Photo by Keith Roper

Is permaculture organic?

Permaculture and organic farming hold a similar stand against using synthetic pesticides and herbicides, but they operate very differently. Permaculture adopts various aspects of organic gardening, but its scope extends beyond food production.

Through its principles, It aims to ensure a lifestyle that mimics nature and is less environmentally harmful. Permaculture differs from organic farming because it brings food production close to the consumer and reintegrates all waste into the system.

It reduces the energy applied in the transportation of produce to the market. Therefore, permaculture takes some beneficial elements of organic farming and integrates different principles to replicate natural systems.


Permaculture discourages using chemicals and products that are harmful to the environment. Essentially, it aims to adopt natural means of pest control and soil enrichment. Permaculture mimics beneficial relationships in nature to suppress harmful pests and facilitate sustainable production while protecting the environment.