Have you considered using biopesticides to help protect your crops?

Biopesticides are increasing in popularity, as the mindset of consumers changes and more and more agricultural chemicals go off the market.

Biopesticides are environmentally friendly alternatives to insecticides, herbicides and fungicides. They are sometimes used as part of integrated pest management (IPM) strategies on farms to reduce chemical use in crop production. They are more commonly used in glasshouses, but are increasing in popularity in field scenarios.

Biopesticides are crop protection products based on living micro-organisms or natural products, such as insects. They are sometimes described as natural predators.

Usage of these products is increasing. Over 18 million acres were treated with biopesticides in the US in 2012.

Research in the UK

The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), in conjunction with the University of Warwick, is carrying out research on these products in the UK as part of the ‘AMBER’ project.

The work is a greenhouse study and aims to develop sets of management practices that can be used to improve the performance of biopesticides.

The work is focusing on optimising spray application, application timing and the use of these products in conjunction with other IPM strategies.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) in the UK estimates that there are 67,000 crop pest species, including insects; weeds; and plant pathogens. These pests can reduce the world’s crop yield by 40%.

The use of these products, as part of an IPM strategy, can result in effective pest control without harming the environment and can reduce the risk of pest resistance to a plant protection product.