The new EU-funded project
Greenresilient aims to study the ways in which pests and diseases are often
suppressed by various naturally-occurring enemies and antagonists which can be
found in cropping systems.
Within the project,
Wageningen University & Research (WUR) is focussing on the role of
beneficial microorganisms in the soil. Several strains of entomopathogenic
fungi have already been isolated from five organic greenhouses across Europe,
which have shown the potential to increases the resilience of plants to
above-ground pests by acting as endophytes that induce plant resistance and/or
produce toxic metabolites.
As part of the work, WUR
will evaluate the isolated entomopathogens as endophytes in tomato plants to
assess their effects on tobacco whiteflies, Bemisia tabaciand the South American tomato
absoluta. The aim is to better understand the role of these fungi
in aboveground pest suppression and to find ways to enhance the presence and
impact of these beneficial fungi.
The same soils will also be
analysed by the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, who will focus on
the interaction between soil microbial communities and suppression of
Photo Caption: A fly
infected by entomopathogenic fungus
Photo Credit: Wikimedia / Alejandro Santillana / University of Texas at Austin
Scientists are developing a new pest control technique which uses their feeding preferences against them.
“Taste-based feeding traps using natural products could be an eco-friendly, cost-efficient and sustainable alternative to synthetic insecticides in the future,” Dr Stefan Pentzold from the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena, Germany, told the EU’s Horizon website.
“Despite their essential role in the insects’ food intake, survival and reproduction, relatively little is known about taste receptors, especially in beetles,” he explained. “This is surprising given their importance as agricultural and forestry pests, their global distribution and huge species numbers as herbivorous insects.” Insects use hairs on their legs, as well as mouthparts and antennae to taste their food before eating, allowing them to sense the chemical signature of their preferred plants. However, some insects have internal taste organs or use smell to find their food.
Israel-based company EdenShield is developing a green alternative to pesticides based on extracts of the native plant lavender cotton (Achillea fragrantissima) which is found in the Judaean Desert. The company hopes that this natural insect repellent will help grower protect crops against greenhouse pests such as whitefly and thrips. They are developing Gatekeeper, a spray product containing natural plant extracts, with help from EU funding.
A new food supplement to boost predatory mites in crops has been launched in the UK by Biobest UK.
Unveiled at the Cucumber Conference earlier this month, Nutrimite™ is claimed to be the first commercially available supplement of its kind. “Nutrimite can help cucumber growers improve the effectiveness of bio control strategies for key pests – such as thrips, whitefly and spider mite – while reducing the overall cost of the programme,” explained Mark Wilde, technical account manager at Biobest UK. “Based on specially selected pollen, this highly nutritious food source means growers can manipulate the development of pollen feeding polyphagous predatory mites, such as Amblyseius swirskii, Amblyseius cucumeris and Amblyseius andersoni.”
Nutrimite enables the mite population to be accelerated and enhanced in the absence of the pest or natural occurring pollen – for example in cucumbers and soft fruit crops before flowering. The company says its food supplement also allows growers to establish populations of predator mites exactly where they want them in the crop. Applied in programmed introductions, the supplement can be stored in a freezer and is applied using an adapted Matika blower with a Biobest Nutri-app attachment.
Following the decision by Certis Europe to divest itself of its commercial sales business of beneficials in certain European countries, Koppert recently acquired the business for the UK, France and Italy. Certis says it will continue to sell its beneficial organism products elsewhere and develop integrated crop protection programmes for its customers in its other markets.
‘The acquisition of Certis Europe’s beneficials sales business in the UK, France and Italy, fits in well with our long-term strategy to further develop biological solutions for these important agricultural and horticultural countries,’ says Koppert Biological Systems’ Managing Director, Henri Oosthoek.
‘The negotiations with Certis were fruitful and coincide with Koppert’s mission to make agriculture healthier, safer and more productive for the better health of people and the planet. The transfer of business is underway and customers in these countries have been notified,’ he added.
Certis Europe is a leader in integrated pest management for the horticultural and specialty crop sectors. Its CEO, Mark Waltham, said: ‘We are excited to find in Koppert a potential partner that is the market leader in beneficial production and development and is therefore best placed to build on the excellent customer relationships Certis and BCP have developed with beneficial products over the last 20 years.’