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How the Ancient Maya civilization cultivated organic crops using herbal medicine to combat pests

Natural pesticides

(NaturalNews) With such widespread use of pesticides on crops throughout the world, and the insistence of Big Agri and some farmers that its products are necessary for successful crop cultivation, one might start to wonder exactly how people managed to grow enough food to survive before this relatively modern poison took root.

Some clues can be found in the agricultural methods used by the Mayan people. Ancient Mayans viewed corn as a gift from the gods, and great care was taken in its cultivation. As a result, corn has been considered one of the most successful and effective self-sustaining cultivation systems on the planet for thousands of years.

The knowledge gleaned from millennia of experience could be used to help with growing organic crops today. The Yucatan Times reports that one of the keys to their success is their extensive knowledge of "photoperiods," which are the times of day when the plants are exposed to sunlight.

By taking into account the solar and lunar seasons, as well as these photoperiods, better blossoming can be achieved, thereby spurring better yields of vegetables and fruits.

Natural pesticides taken from herbal medicine

Moreover, the Mayan culture boasts a very thorough knowledge of herbal medicine. This is something that is not only applied to natural healing, but also to pest and fungus control on crops.

For example, the neem tree (Azadirachta Indica) has a lot of applications. This fast-growing tree can reach as tall as 20 meters, and its leaves can treat a host of diseases. Cholesterol, hypertension and diabetes are just a few of the illnesses it can help with. It also boasts antibacterial qualities, which means it can help with skin issues and can even help rid the body of impurities.

Its uses in crop cultivation are every bit as impressive. In fact, it has proven to fight one of the most dangerous threats to the cultivation of produce: the white fly.

Up to 90 percent effective

Neem is remarkably powerful when it comes to controlling insects, with one of its components, azadirachitin, believed to be as much as 90 percent effective in pest control. This chemical can be found not only in the leaves of the tree, but also in its wood and seeds. It does not cause instant death like chemical pesticides. Instead, it repels insects and serves as an anti-feedant, essentially causing the insects to prefer starving to death over eating the plant that has been treated with neem. If they eat it anyway, the neem will have a contraceptive effect, thereby interrupting their life cycle by ensuring they do not lay eggs.

Plants that have been treated with neem are safe for beneficial insects like butterflies and bees, and insects must actually have fed on the plant tissues in order to be affected.

Another benefit of using neem is that it is biodegradable, which means it will break down quickly and easily. Unlike chemical pesticides, it does not harm birds, mammals or earthworms.

Neem's insecticide action can replace the use of pesticides and chemicals, ensuring that the produce is not contaminated. The Mayans combine this with their mastery of soil preparation and composting to yield impressive results.

Mayan researcher and culture expert Caamal Itza believes that this traditional knowledge should be disseminated and preserved in order to help promote food production methods that are kinder to the environment.

As the demand for organic produce continues to rise, now is an excellent time for some of these methods to garner a closer look. After all, why would anyone in their right mind want to buy produce that was doused in chemicals known to cause cancer, when they could choose options that were grown with natural pesticides?

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