Natural predators and biopesticides help tackle pests

30th Nov 2011

Scientists at The James Hutton Institute are helping find new ways of tackling crop pests and diseases without using conventional pesticides. They are contributing to the SCEPTRE project which aims to address key gaps in crop protection.

SCEPTRE (Sustainable crop and environment protection – targeted research for edibles) is finding new ways to reduce use of conventional pesticides in line with EU policy 91/414 EEC and related environmental Directives.

The James Hutton Institute is contributing to research on Integrated Pest Management approaches for protected raspberry. The work involves testing biopesticides and plant natural products for compatibility with biocontrol agents (beneficial insects) of key pests.

This IPM approach uses biopesticides combined with semiochemicals (natural pest attractants and repellents), natural predators and parasitoids of crop pests like aphids, raspberry beetle and raspberry cane midge, to help keep key pests under control.

Dr Nick Birch, who is leading The James Hutton Institute involvement in the project said: "As more restrictions are put on the conventional pesticides that growers use we need to find alternative ways of managing pests.

"Protected cropping using polytunnels has brought new challenges for growers in terms of pests and diseases year round, so we have to use new innovative ideas to help manage those and improve sustainability of crops by making use of nature."

The SCEPTRE project is sponsored by Defra and supported by the Horticultural Development Company, crop protection companies, food retailers and others in the UK horticulture industry.

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