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TECHNICAL


There’s a lot that we have to learn, the key question is; what is the best way of going about this and then practically


implementing the findings?


Management of Biopesticides for Efficacy and Reliability), a 5-year project with the aim of identifying management practices that commercial nurseries can use to improve the performance of biopesticide products within IPM. Ideally, funding would be organised and available within the sports turf sector to undertake similar research but, in the absence of this resource, there is still plenty that can be applied from the outcomes of this project. Further articles will focus on developing an integrated approach to resolve specific problems but, in this article, it is helpful to highlight some of the key findings from this project.


Knowledge gaps


Existing knowledge about biological control mechanisms has been collated to identify areas of knowledge clusters as well as highlighting any knowledge gaps. Further research efforts can then be directed into the most constructive areas. Research relating to biopesticides in the commercial nursery sector is currently developing understanding of the impacts of pest survival rate, fecundity, stage length, initial numbers, biopesticide spray timing, efficacy, age class susceptibility, population structure and persistence.


It is also seeking to utilise technology effectively to assist with decision making and knowledge of the parameters that are relevant to Economic Thresholds.


Technology


Computer models have been created that simulate detailed pest and disease populations accurately based upon environmental conditions within a commercial nursery setting. The models are location specific but the data can be grouped regionally or nationally to enable commercial horticulture production managers to receive advance warning of potential problems.


Product Application


Product application is a key aspect of success for both biopesticides and for chemical pesticides. Research is focusing on optimum water volumes, including studies looking at retention of substances on the leaf, efficacy and longevity. The variables tested were nozzle type, forward speed, pressure, nozzle flow rate, applied volume, boom height, nozzle angle and nozzle configuration. The spray volumes applied covered the typical range of water volumes recommended for biopesticide products, from 500 to >1000 litres per hectare. Contrary to expectation, lower volumes were the most efficient at depositing spray liquid on the plant, as


it resulted in a greater proportion of the spray volume adhering to the plant foliage. The data suggest that the most efficient application strategy is to apply a higher concentration of biopesticide product in a lower volume of water (Ellis), and that there is a false perception among managers that increasing the water volume gives better spray application to the target. There is a significant opportunity to improve all areas of biopesticide application, including product storage, product preparation and mixing, spray equipment set up and maintenance, optimising application volume and tank cleaning. Given some of the findings, this is likely to impact existing practices and could significantly improve product effectiveness, demonstrating how important research is, and how this can undermine existing assumptions.


Relevance to sports turf management and amenity horticulture


With so much to learn, yet with no approved products, why should we engage with biopesticides at this stage? A small number of biopesticides have been available to UK growers for some time, though no product crop approvals currently exist within amenity grassland or managed amenity turf, however, an increasing number will be entering the market in the next few years. Biopesticides now represent over 50%


PC April/May 2019 143





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