The Benefits of Bugs

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Neil Champion grows healthier cannabis using biological pest controls from ARBICO Organics.

February 8, 2021

NemAttack™ beneficial nematodes stop pests like fungus gnats in the larval stage before they become a problem in flower. PureCrop1 also can be used as part of an IPM program.
Photos courtesy of ARBICO

Whether consulting individual caregivers or large commercial cultivators, Neil Champion uses organic-based living soil programs to grow the healthiest cannabis possible. Since Arizona mandated that medical cannabis must be tested for pesticides starting in November 2020, this mindful approach has become even more important to growers.

“Now that there are more stringent testing regulations in several states, [growers are] rewriting a lot of pest control plans,” says Champion, owner, CEO, and lead consultant at Arizona Grown Consulting & Referral Services. “I’ve been able to write [synthetic] pesticides out of a lot of programs by instituting biological products and beneficial insects from ARBICO Organics.”

Champion uses ARBICO products almost exclusively when consulting operations of all sizes throughout the Southwest—leveraging the company’s predatory bugs and compatible organic sprays to prevent and control pests and disease.

“Starting with the soil, I use their NemAttack™ beneficial nematodes to lay a good foundation,” he says. “Those stop common pests, like fungus gnats, in the larval stage before they become a problem in the flower. That’s been a better control for soil-based pests than anything else I’ve found.”

Depending on the grow facility, Champion may also use biorational pest controls—like plant-based PureCrop1 insecticide or OMRI-listed SuffOil-X® spray—as part of an integrated pest management (IPM) program. If specific insect infestations or fungal issues arise, he’ll deploy more targeted defenses from ARBICO’s arsenal of beneficial bugs.

“Their predatory mites have taken out infestations overnight,” Champion says. “The Neoseiulus Californicus and Amblyseius cucumeris were able to knock out my spider mite populations. Recently there’s been an influx in russet mites, and the Amblyseius swirskii predatory mites have done great work decimating those infestations.”

Beyond the products, Champion relies on ARBICO as an IPM resource he can turn to anytime for answers and advice. “They have, hands-down, the best customer service of any company I’ve ever worked with,” he says. “If you have a question about a specific condition, they’ll develop a plan for you over the phone—almost immediately in most situations.”

By blending ARBICO’s pest control expertise and non-synthetic controls, Champion helps cannabis growers produce healthier plants with fewer problems.

“Because their products are biological, there’s no chemical resistance built up by pests within the grow. You’re not having to reintroduce microbes to keep the soil alive because there are no chemicals killing your living system,” he says. “Your end product is not molested by anything, because the bugs take care of everything.”

Whether growers are concerned about producing healthier plants, selling safer products, or simply passing state purity tests, Champion recommends ARBICO Organics as their solutions partner.

“Using ARBICO products as a maintenance tool and preventative measure has probably been the best move in my consulting career so far, because there are no problems to mediate the end of the grow,” he says. “My clients' [plants] are healthier and happier and growing better.”

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