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Crop protection

Sterile insect technique to control emerging global invasion of a Drosophilid fruit fly

Taking flight between rows of crops inside a greenhouse, the Spotted Wing Drosophila (SWD), Drosophila suzukii, lands on blossoming berries, infesting the fresh produce and causing irreparable destruction. Unlike other Drosophilidae that thrive on harvested and decaying fruits, SWD has a penchant for small fruits – blueberries, strawberries and raspberries – and stone fruits, such as cherries, in both open fields and confined greenhouses. A pest native to Southeast Asia, SWD have landed across Europe, the Americas and, most recently, in parts of Africa. Financial losses linked to the infestation of the unruly pest could reach millions of dollars a year – more than US $500 million in the United States of America, alone – according to a study published in the journal Insects.

The IAEA, in cooperation with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), has the expertise and historical success in implementing the sterile insect technique (SIT) to suppress or eradicate insect pests, like the Mediterranean fruit fly, screwworm flies, tsetse flies and various moths. Given the threat of SWD to fruit production around the world, several countries approached the FAO and IAEA to assess the potential of the SIT to suppress SWD in confined production systems, such as greenhouses.

“To date, there are no environment-friendly treatments developed to supress this pest,” said Gustavo Taret of Argentina’s Institute of Agricultural Health and Quality. “SIT would be the only environment-friendly control method that would allow its use in greenhouses, reducing the use of insecticides while protecting beneficial insects in the control of other pests.”

How is the SIT package developed?
The first import of a colony of SWD arrived from Italy in 2015 at the FAO/IAEA Insect Pest Control Laboratory (IPCL) in Seibersdorf, Austria. Since then, the laboratory has investigated the SWD’s radiation biology, which means the effect of ionizing irradiation on the induction of sterility. “For a new species, we need to assess different doses of radiation from low to high to determine what irradiation dose induces near 100 per cent sterility,” said Carlos Caceres, a research entomologist with the Joint FAO/IAEA Programme of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture.

To nurture the mass production of fruit flies for research, scientists have developed egging systems and adult holding cages. In the case of SWD, the egging, or oviposition, system developed is comprised of plastic receptacles with holes that allow females to lay eggs. “The oviposition system is a panel that consists of a fine net cover with wax. The females are attracted to a specific colour of the oviposition panel,” Caceres explained. “Females oviposit – or lay eggs – through the panel, then the eggs are collected on the exterior of the cage.” Scientists have determined that SWD are attracted to black panels, which maximizes the number of eggs collected.

Once the eggs hatch into larvae, they are fed a diet consisting of carrot powder, sugar, yeast and water. Within days, the larvae metamorphose into pupae. Once the pupae mature, they are collected and irradiated, rendering them infertile. After irradiation, the pupae are placed in holding cages where sterile adult flies emerge. “The holding cages are made of an aluminum frame covered with a fine synthetic mesh net. Inside the cage is a supply of sugar and yeast, as a source of nutrients, along with a water-soaked sponge for the flies’ hydration,” Caceres said. One cage measures 50 cm x 50 cm x 50 cm.

After three days in the holding cages, the adult flies become sexually mature and can be released in the target area to mate with fertile females, resulting in no offspring. This will consequently lead to a decline of the wild population with each generation.

Status of SIT for SWD
Mass-rearing protocols for SWD have been established, and handling and release protocols so that the adult flies arrive healthy and competitive in the field are under assessment. “A stable and sufficient production of sterile insects is required to carry out evaluations in confined areas or greenhouses and to be able to adjust the release rates and frequencies,” Taret said. To date, pilot trials, in which 50 000 to 100 000 fruit flies are produced per week, have been deployed in greenhouses in Argentina. An additional pilot trial is expected to be implemented in France this year.

Results from these pilot trials will allow the integration of SIT to control SWD in the affected countries. “The basic technology for the SIT for SWD pilot test is in place, which would require the release of about 2 million flies per week over targeted areas, but its adoption and deployment depend on plant protection authorities and fruit industry decision makers,” Caceres said.

The SIT package for SWD is expected to be finalized in 2023. “The SIT can be integrated with other control methods, reducing crop losses, pesticide residues in food and risk to workers,” Caceres said.

For more information:
International Atomic Energy Agency
www.iaea.org

Mazzi D, Bravin E, Meraner M, Finger R, Kuske S. Economic Impact of the Introduction and Establishment of Drosophila suzukii on Sweet Cherry Production in Switzerland. Insects. 2017;8(1):18. Published 2017 Feb 8. doi:10.3390/insects8010018

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  1. CULLITY74

    November 12, 2021 at 5:45 pm

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Crop protection

Greenhouse ginger has a stronger flavor than imported ginger

In Belgium, CRU is now offering prime fresh ginger on its markets. It is grown locally and sustainably. It is also cultivated pesticide-free and with a minimum of organic fertilizers. The ginger has a stronger flavor than imported ginger.

Also, its carbon footprint is kept as low as possible. This prime ginger is the result of sustainable innovation. Colruyt Group initiated that in cooperation with the REO cooperative and the Provincial Experimental Centre for Vegetable Production.

 

As a retailer, the Colruyt Group is becoming increasingly aware of food’s impact on people’s health and the planet. It is constantly working on making its products more sustainable. Then its customers can deliberately make sustainable choices.

In this context, Colruyt Group and its collaborators launched this pilot project to grow fresh prime ginger in Belgium. This is a project of the Colruyt Group’s food innovation team for CRU. The ginger’s environmental footprint is reduced thanks to its local, sustainable cultivation.

 

Local, sustainable farming
This ginger is grown in a greenhouse at the Provincial Vegetable Research Center. Two REO cooperative growers also cultivate it under a non-heated plastic tunnel and greenhouse, also non-heated. The ginger was planted in mid-May and is harvested in the fall.

 

The growers used a minimal amount of organic fertilizer and no pesticides during cultivation. Growing locally reduces CO2 emissions, as shorter trips are needed to get the product to end-users. This ginger goes from the field to Belgian plates. This product usually comes from Asia and South America, increasing its carbon footprint.

 

Fresh, top-quality ginger
The Belgian is harvested when the plant’s foliage is still green, so it has no chance to harden or form a skin. That gives the ginger a distinct aroma and flavor. It is very juicy with no fiber and is fresher than the imported versions.

These tubers are uprooted and washed and can be eaten right away. This top-quality ginger has a limited shelf life. This pilot project’s first crop has both good quality and yield – so it was a success. Scaling it up and further sustainability is, therefore, being evaluated.

 

Exclusive to CRU
People can now buy this high-quality Belgian ginger for a short while at CRU’s three fresh markets in the country. Then it’s back to waiting for the next harvest. So, CRU clients are the first to get the opportunity to taste this local product.

 

Ginger is very trendy. Because it is so healthy, more and more people are using this root. It is also ideal for flavoring dishes, in fresh but also in syrup or powder form. Taste and user tests have already confirmed that this Belgian ginger outshines the usual product from Brazil, Peru, and China. The Colruyt Group is therefore proud to market this locally-grown, tasty, ultra-fresh product.

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Crop protection

New research greenhouse for natural crop protection developer

Thorben, in the foreground, at the new facility

Valto received the keys to a greenhouse with 17 departments on the Hoefweg in De Lier, with which director Thorben Looije is taking the next step in his growth ambition.

Valto is a Dutch family business specialising in natural crop protection products. Their best-known product, V10, protects tomato plants against the highly damaging pepino mosaic virus. The research into new, natural crop protection products has so far been done at various locations.

After the imminent modifications to the new greenhouse complex, Valto’s researchers will be able to carry out larger tests on several crops and all in one place, close to the family business’s office at Leehove.

The new research facility fits in with the growth plans of the company, which develops and supplies biocontrol agents. “We believe in the power of nature,” Thorben Looije says. “We develop natural crop protection products to make crops resilient to plant diseases. This is a perfect fit within the goals of a greener Europe, but also those of growers, who also attach importance to health, sustainability and the environment.”

Natural protection
The government uses Green Deals to encourage companies to reduce their impact on the environment. For greenhouse horticulture and agriculture, this means using more natural crop protection. Valto wants to respond to this need by conducting more research and tests and developing new biocontrol agents. The new greenhouse will make this possible in the future.

Innovation in legislation
According to Thorben, a condition for innovation is that legislation innovates too: “Our customers want a healthy harvest and good returns. They ask us to help them prevent diseases in their crops. We are happy to do that with the help of nature, but then the legislation has to be adapted. The approval procedure for natural crop protection products now takes about 8 to 10 years. Fortunately, more and more people in The Hague and Brussels are realizing that legislation must grow along with us if we want to meet the European goals.”

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Crop protection

Innovative strategies for biological control

Year after year, the number of crop protection and chemical products that can be employed to counter pathogens and harmful insects in agriculture gets smaller and smaller. Within that scenario and with the aim of achieving a more sustainable management of resources in line with the objectives of Agenda 2030, biological control using useful predators is the only solution.

It is with this purpose in mind that Agri Impo Tech was established in 2019 as an offshoot of Agri Impol in Battipaglia (Salerno), which boasts thirty years of experience in the preparation of pollination programs using bees and bumblebees.

“What is new in the world of biological control is the possibility of feeding mites and useful insects right after they are introduced. This way, they can develop before the attack of harmful insects. This strategy means useful insects can be launched even if their counterparts are not present yet. Nutrimite, distributed by Agri Impol Tech, has led to excellent results,” reports Antonio Rago, owner of Agri Impol and Agri Impol Tech.

For the past 30 years, Antonio Rago and his company have worked to make agriculture as sustainable as possible developing strategies with a low environmental impact. Agri Impol and Biobest have in fact signed an agreement for the sale and distribution of hives of Flying Doctor bumblebees and of all insects useful for biological control.

“Tuta Trap is a pheromone trap that attracts Tuta absoluta adult males. It can be used to monitor and mass capture parasite lepidoptera. Capturing males, in fact, noticeably reduces infestations dropping them to an acceptable level. 15/20 traps per hectare are needed in greenhouses and 15/25 per hectare in open fields. These can also be combined with color insect traps for monitoring and mass capturing.”

Another objective for the company is making producers understand the importance of pollination, which represents a crucial phase for setting and, therefore, for production.

“Nature alone is not enough to meet pollination needs, this is why we suggest introducing bees and bumblebees during blossoming. We are basically talking about buzz-pollination (especially for tomatoes) carried out by bumblebees, who are more stationary than bees and able to work at lower temperatures and in less-ideal weather (wind and rain). Bees are more suitable for late blossoming.”

“Apipol box has become available this year, i.e a hive containing two bee colonies. It was developed to favor entomophilous pollination in open-field crops and we will showcase it during Macfrut.”

“We will welcome you at Macfrut, stand 111, hall B5 to present our new company established in 2019 – Agri Impol Tech.”

Do you wish to create a pollination program perfect for you or get to know biological control options? The company will welcome you at Macfrut on September 7-9, 2021.

For further information:
Agri Impol s.r.l.
via Milano
84090 Montecorvino Pugliano (SA) -Italy
+39 0828 53744
+39 0828 507182
info@agriimpol.it
www.agriimpol.it

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