Is the environmental impact of pesticide use on greenhouse crops substantially different from the impact of pesticide use in open-air crops?

I imagine that, at least in theory, a greenhouse should have the opportunity to keep pests out by being a closed environment. When pests are kept out in the first place, less or no pesticide should be needed to kill them. Or, if pesticide is being used, it may be less likely to escape into the natural environment.

Does my imagination have anything to do with reality?

  • Does my imagination have anything to do with reality? ... see also: philosophy.stackexchange.com
    – LShaver
    Aug 20, 2018 at 15:08
  • And greenhouses make it easier to use insects for pest control - they don't fly away so easily.
    – user2451
    Aug 21, 2018 at 12:52
  • Your house is closed. Do you get any bugs in your house?
    – paparazzo
    Aug 31, 2018 at 22:27
  • @paparazzo Only when the windows are open, I think.
    – gerrit
    Sep 3, 2018 at 9:40

2 Answers 2


Weed control is easier in greenhouses, so herbicides aren't used much.

However the higher humidity levels and more constant temperatures make both insect and fungi much larger pests.

The expense of operating a greenhouse also pushes to maximize production per square foot, so the use of fertilizers is increased. I would expect more pesticide use per tonne of product in greenhouse production.


To a general question this general answer: I don't know, but in general I don't think so ;-) but then again, ...

First: a greenhouse is not a closed environment. It is aerated (insects can come in and go out) and (unless the water is drained in an isolated way) water escapes via the soil (residue pesticide escapes also).

Second: pesticides can be a lot of things: herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, bactericides etc. depending on what is bugging you.

A greenhouse doesn't keep any pests out (unless you mean rabbits maybe?) and can create its own kind of problems (it is a hot and moisty environment that is ideal for some insects and fungi).

The only thing is: when you have to spray pesticides of any kind, there is some direct protection for neighboring parcels (that don't get acutely polluted).

Also, if you have to use biological biocides (like wasps) they are more likely to stay in the greenhouse (not sure).

  • how is biocide different from pesticide? pesticide kills pests, biocide kills …?
    – gerrit
    Aug 20, 2018 at 22:56
  • Sorry, I meant biological biocides. Corrected in the text. Biocides (kills a form of life) can be chemical or biological.
    – luc
    Nov 7, 2018 at 17:22

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.