The current focus on the ‘greening’ of agriculture and horticulture crop protection in Europe is not new, nor is it likely to go away. Considerable progress has been made in some sectors already, but there is still a lot of work to be done to meet the ever-increasing demands of governments, the value chain and consumers for more sustainable and environmentally friendly production.
Certis Europe has a long history of providing growers with Biorational crop protection solutions for sustainable production and is at the forefront of new innovative product developments, continuing to extend its footprint in the market. Biorationals are defined as “registered plant protection products generally derived from the natural environment, offering improved benefits for plants, people and the planet, which are increasingly important factors for Integrated Crop Production to satisfy requirements of the value chain and consumers.”
The biorationals portfolio of Certis includes many products for use in protected cropping, as well as several that are already registered and used effectively in open field crops*. Whilst the production of protected crops such as tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and strawberries using biorational control products in effective Integrated Pest Management programmes is now quite normal, the successful transfer of such techniques to open field crops is clearly not just a matter of ‘copy and paste’.
However, work on open field crops is well underway and much has already been learnt. It is vital to adjust both the products used and the application techniques to achieve more reliable and more effective control in an open field cropping situation. For example, in open field crops, elements such as rainfastness can become critical and a spraying technique that targets pests correctly, for example if they are found on the underside of leaves, is vital. Since most Biorational products are not systemic, control is only effective if they can be applied on the spots where the pest or disease has been detected at an early infestation level, so preferably even before damage to the crop occurs. Aphids who hide on the underside of the leaves for example, can only adequately be controlled with a Biorational product, if the product is applied to the underside of the leaves. Many open field crops are sprayed by tractor mounted booms, whose nozzles spray mainly downwards. This application technology does not really support the efficacy of a Biorational aphicide. Work is moving forward and researchers are encouraged by the improvements seen, as progress is made.
In protected cropping situations new technology, such as drones and robots for monitoring the crop to detect and identify pests and diseases early on, are being tested or even in use already. If such developments continue to be successful and their use becomes accepted and economically justifiable, this could offer improved opportunities for early detection of pests and diseases even in open field crops. Such new technologies could bring a definite advantage for more optimal use and so performance of Biorational products in outdoor cropping situations too.
New products are in the Certis development pipeline, while others such as Eradicoat Max and Neudosan®** are already registered or in the registration process of different countries and coming to the market soon. Certis aims to have over 30% of sales coming from Biorationals by 2025. The major challenge is to create innovative production and application technology to facilitate the effective use of Biorationals in open field crops. Without such innovation the use of Biorationals in field crops will not advance very quickly.
* Examples include slug pellets based on ferric-phosphate, a salt (potassium bicarbonate) to control powdery mildew, as well as Bacillus thuringiensis and pheromone products for pest control solutions in fruit and vegetables and Trichodermas as a microbial solution against soil diseases.
** Neudosan® is a registered trademark of Neudorff and is based on fatty acid-based potassium salt with insecticidal and acaricidal activity. It is already EU approved and currently sold in Germany on both greenhouse and open field crops. It has approval for use on organic crops in Germany. Registrations in other EU countries are anticipated via Mutual Recognition procedures according to Regulation 1107/2009.