Tuesday, February 21, 2017

NEW - Bee Safe Insect Control

A recently announced Australian product has proven effective for insect control in macadamias while also allowing bee pollinators to remain active and effective.

The product is derived from blue pea - Clitoria ternatea a tropical legume with a blue flower that thrives on heavy black soils in tropical areas.

A regional Australian company behind a game-changing bio insecticide that is safe for bees and other beneficial insects has secured funding to ensure its production remains on home soil.
Innovate Ag from Wee Waa in northern New South Wales has spent 15 years developing Sero-X, a pesticide using peptides from the butterfly pea legume as its active ingredient.
Last year the product was used under permit on macadamia crops and the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority recently registered it for use by cotton growers.

The company this week announced a partnership deal with the Belgium based Biological Products of Agriculture (Bi-PA) to help commercialise its invention and distribute it globally.
There is a lot of science behind the product and it is worthwhile knowing about it for use where bees are important and active.  That may include vegetables.
Innovate Ag's project director Nick Watts said Sero-X had huge potential for improving the environmental sustainability and ethical production of food and fibre globally.
"The secret behind this innovative product comes straight from nature itself in the form of cyclotides," Mr Watts said.
"Cyclotides are peptides, or mini-proteins, that are naturally found in plants and have a range of biological activities, including insecticidal and antimicrobial."
They also have great pharmaceutical potential.
"Footy players have given peptides a bad name, but they are fantastic, potent natural compounds that can perform all sorts of functions," Mr Watts said.
Sero-X is already shaping up as a game changer in the macadamia industry which relies on honey bees for pollination but is susceptible to heavy losses from insect pests.

Until now, growers could lose up to 50 per cent of their crop if they did not use broad spectrum synthetic pesticides, Macadamia Industry Board agronomist Neil Innes said.
"There's more reliance on less specific, more broader spectrum synthetic pesticides which have a lot more affect on our pollinators," Mr Innes said.
"There's three basic pesticides and they all have major constraints and it's a big juggling act to not damage pollinators, moving hives around lots of growers have had issues with bee kills."

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Biofumigation - Is it An Option?

Biofumigation is relatively new, although a few growers have been involved for maybe 10 years plus here in Australia.  Many that trial the concept are vegetable growers with strong pressure from soil borne diseases or nematodes on their operations that can be controlled at times, but with expensive agrochemicals.  However, there is concern that the products might disappear due to regulatory issues.

The idea of using biofumigation then becomes a viable option to test / evaluate and maybe, implement.

Both nematodes and some soil borne diseases have been controlled / managed successfully, and areas in SW WA, Tasmania and Victoria are actively engaged while R and D is also occurring in SE Queensland areas eg Lockyer Valley, a big vegetable growing area.  There is also some evidence of effects on seed in the soil and small seedlings. 

Essentially it involves using highly specific cover crops that are mulched into the ground.  The factor that offers the help is the production of highly complex sulfur compounds that act as seed and seedling, disease and nematode “killers” with these compounds released during the cutting and maceration  by incorporation into the top 50 – 200mm of the ground where most of the target organisms are present.

Probably too complex to discuss here in detail, but more information is readily available.

This offers a good overview of the technology, and there are more farmer fact sheets available from a number of sources.

The Italians are very active in R and D and moving steadily towards wider use of the techniques, as are some other European areas, with Australia and NZ also active.

Unfortunately, not so much development seems to be occurring in warmer regions eg subtropical and tropical areas, where some of the species used may not be so easily grown.

More sophisticated technology used on the farm, once again.  Very cunning application of a simple technology.

A recent webinar should be available to view in the next week or so - the technology is worth investigating for growers of vegetables and similar crops.  It might also have applicaton for turf crops, as commercial products made of pelletted crop materials are also becoming available.