A Cork student who investigated the potential of nematodes as replacements for chemical pesticides has scooped the Teagasc award at BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition (BTYSTE) 2022.

Johannah Pigott, a transition-year student from Colaiste Treasa, Kanturk, Co. Cork was chosen by a team of judges as the Teagasc winner; and she also took third place in the Biological and Ecological (Individual) category at the virtual event, which took place from January 12-14.

Johannah’s project was entitled: ‘Infectivity of the entomopathogenic nematode Steinernema feltiae at different temperatures’.

She looked at the use of entomopathogenic nematodes (EPN) as an alternative to the use of pesticides for the control of plant-insect pests.

Johannah explained: “I believe that EPN could be implemented on Irish farms, in households and garden centres as a safer, more reliable alternative to the pesticides being used presently.”

A budding horticulturalist, Johannah’s project was motivated by the need to produce food in a more sustainable way by reducing reliance on synthetic insecticides.

Her project looked at the optimal temperature at which to apply EPN and she believes this knowledge could help us to identify the most suitable time to apply EPN to manage insect pests outdoors in Ireland.

Her teacher, Joanne Corkery, acknowledged the contribution of Dr. Thomae Kakouli-Duarte at Institute of Technology, Carlow, for advice and providing inoculum for the project.

The BTYSTE 2022 has come to an end but all the fantastic content and shows delivered throughout the week and the videos submitted by participants about their projects will remain online until the end of January. And you can learn more about Johannah’s project here.