Category: News
Date published: May 03, 2024

In control of pests in outdoor crops

With increasing rules and regulations from governments and value chain stakeholders regarding the use of chemical pesticides and insecticides, a holistic integrated pest management (IPM) approach is becoming crucial for continued access to markets and economic sustainability. Biocontrol is one of the key success factors for strategic IPM. Koppert’s biological solutions for outdoor crops not only protects against diseases and pests, but also improves crop health and resilience. Natural enemies are highly effective in controlling pests in outdoor crops, offering a viable and safe alternative to chemical options. “We work to understand growers’ challenges and provide them with solutions,” says Jenette Douma, Global Technical Market Development Lead. “Testing plays an important role in our approach.  We test our solutions in demo fields, then we partner with growers to apply our products in their fields. The results are convincing. Consequently, we are continuing to expand our portfolio of natural enemies for agricultural use.” 

Continuous innovation for agriculture  

In Spain and the Netherlands, growers are using predatory bugs to control thrips in leeks and onions. “Their experience has been very positive,” says Jenette. “Therefore, we have extended our trials to Germany. We are also exploring new application methods for predatory mites against spider mites in potatoes, and we are working on solutions against aphids in, for example, apple trees.” 

In Spain, France and Italy, growers have successfully used the Cryptobug (Cryptolaemus montrouzieri) predatory beetle and Citripar (Anagyrus vladimiri) parasitic wasp for the control of mealybugs in grapes and citrus, and the predatory mite, Spidex (Phytoseiulus persimilis)
for the control of spider mites in tomatoes. Jenette: “To simplify the application of predatory mites in tomato fields, we have updated our packaging. The new containers are larger and compatible with drones.” 

Rhyzobug (Rhyzobius lophanthae) is one of the most recent additions to our portfolio for outdoor crops. This predatory beetle is the natural enemy of armoured scales in citrus and an affordable, easy to use, biocontrol agent for the citrus crop cycle. Koppert continues to innovate, optimising formulations to extend their shelf life and to make them easier to store and use. We are working towards ultimately developing a systems approach for the control of all major pests and diseases in outdoor crops. 

Big impact starts small  

When it comes to biocontrol at soil level, Koppert offers a powerful combination of biocontrol agents. Beneficial nematodes act as a highly effective biological pesticide for outdoor crops. The formulation keeps the beneficial nematodes dormant until they are mixed with water. Once activated, they actively and instinctively hunt their prey. Beneficial nematodes are incredibly versatile. They protect against a broad spectrum of soil pests like lepidopterans, wireworms, fly larvae and beetles in fruits, arable vegetables, and outdoor vegetables such as leafy greens, onions, carrots, and beans. We have also seen excellent results with nematodes against foliage pests, most notably caterpillars.  “Biological pesticides and fungicides are completely natural,” Paolo Banzato, product manager at Koppert explains. “The active ingredients are microscopic organisms, such as beneficial fungi and bacteria, that help control pests and soil diseases. The registration process for these biocontrol methods is lengthy, even though they are demonstrably effective and safe. We have successfully registered a wide range of biological pesticides and fungicides for indoor use. Now we are working hard to extend more and more registrations to outdoor use.”  

As a result of these efforts, many countries have approved the use of Trianum (Trichoderma harzianum) in several outdoor crops, such as potatoes, carrots, leafy greens, and onions. This biological fungicide can control a range of soilborne diseases, such as Pythium, Rhizoctonia and Fusarium in many different outdoor vegetables and row crops. Paolo: “The efficacy of Trianum is comparable to that of a chemical fungicide, but whereas chemicals put stress on the plant, Trianum makes the plant more resilient to stress. Healthier root systems improve the uptake of water and nutrients and stimulate plant growth.”  


In control in your IPM strategy  

Paolo continues: “We want to make it as easy as possible for growers to adopt biocontrol methods, so we work hard to make our products compatible with their current application equipment and processes. We inform growers of any potential compatibility issues and provide solutions. Products that cannot be tank mixed, can often still be applied separately a few days apart.”   

Ultimately, the need to manage pesticide and insecticide resistance is one of the main drivers of IPM adoption. Biocontrol, including macro and micro agents, is easy to integrate into a growers’ IPM strategy and will eventually help minimise growers’ reliance on chemical products in outdoor crops and contribute to more sustainable agriculture, as these products offer limited to no resistance. Being in control with Koppert in your outdoor crops means no chemical residue and no preharvest interval. This ultimately results in greater access to markets and, a safe process for users and safer produce for the consumer.