Biocontrol products are increasing both in numbers and in grower acceptance.
At the recent Biocontrols USA West 2017 Conference and Expo, one message was evident: grower acceptance of biocontrol products for crop protection is increasing. In a Growing Produce article, Rick Melnick, Chairman of the Biological Products Industry Alliance, said at the conference: “The ‘Wild West’ time for biopesticides is over. The products that didn’t work are gone.” Explore the ever-expanding options of biocontrol products below.
Biocontrol Products Defined
Biocontrol products are many and varied, but they can be defined as any method of controlling pests like bugs or disease by biological, rather than chemical, means. The term can refer to everything from introducing bugs that prey on pests to biopesticides derived from natural materials like entomopathogenic fungi and bacteria. Biocontrols are usually biodegradable and target a specific pest.
Biocontrol products are generally more accepted by consumers than conventional pesticides and herbicides. For instance, many biocontrol products are approved for use with organics. The Growing Produce piece explains that many “go-to pest management tools have been taken off the market by manufacturers or edict from the EPA,” and that biocontrol products are filling the void. The article cites a research report by Frost and Sullivan that projected the biopesticide market would jump in value from $594 million in 2008 to $1.02 billion by 2015.
Considering Biocontrol Products
While Melnick maintained there are fewer biocontrol products on the market that flat-out don’t work than there were before, growers wanting to integrate biocontrols into their pest management strategies should do their due diligence. Frank Sances, Founder and Owner of Pacific Ag Group, is quoted in the Growing Produce article: ““I would always look for third-party evidence of efficacy and suitability for your operation,” Sances said. “That is the only thing you can really depend on. That is not available all the time. When it is not, and you do have interest in the product, you are regulated to doing your own testing or hiring a consultant to conduct trials.”
Biocontrols are used by Duda Farms Fresh Foods, a fruit and vegetable grower that started in Florida in the early 1900s and then spread to California and points further. Perry Yance, a Duda Farm Manager, is quoted in the Growing Produce piece as saying: “In our integrated pest management programs, we make use of all available labeled materials as needed based on pest pressure, which is monitored through our extensive field scouting. With biofungicides and biostimulants, we take the approach of using materials that increase plant health and aid the plant in fighting off diseases and insects naturally.”
Southeastern growers can learn for themselves, especially about new fertilizer-use efficacy, plant defense, and plant-health materials, which Yance maintains are a growing part of the biostimulant sector, at the Biocontrols USA West 2017 Conference and Expo, October 12th and 13th in Orlando, Florida.
Griffin Fertilizer is committed to helping both growers and ranchers make sound agronomic and economic decisions in order to maximize the health of their grove and pasture. As a full-service custom dry & liquid fertilizer blender and crop protection product distributor, we will continue our mission to further advance Florida agriculture. For questions or concerns about your farm or pasture, contact us and one of our team will be in touch.