SLU news

Biological control in future horticulture

Published: 08 May 2012

In October 2011, a workshop on biological control in horticulture was held at the SLU campus in Alnarp. The workshop was arranged in collaboration between “Partnership Alnarp”, EPOK and “SLU EkoForsk”. Around 60 entrepreneurs, advisors, researchers and representatives of authorities were attending.

- To develop a sustainable production, we need to integrate conservation biological control into our cultivation systems, said Birgitta Rämert, SLU.

- To minimize the use of chemical pesticides, we need to give priority to preventive measures instead of direct measures. Biodiversity in the landscape around the fields gives natural enemies. Changes in the environment or in existing methods of cultivation can be done to protect or amplify natural enemies, said Birgitta Rämert

Ulf Nilsson and Weronika Swiergiel from SLU talked about how natural enemies can be promoted to combat pests in field vegetables and in apple orchards. Both speakers stressed the importance of an integrated approach comprising a number of organisms and biological control methods and a control strategy that is adapted to the cultivation methods in general.

Sammar Khalil, SLU, pointed out that the knowledge on how and when to apply biological control is important. She has evaluated various commercial biological preparations against fungal diseases on tomato roots and saw that external factors such as growth medium and conductivity affect their effectiveness.

- In the future, biological control will be an important part of all plant protection, because fewer chemical pesticides will be available, said Anna- Karin Johansson from the company Vendel trädgårdsrådgivning and Klara Lövkvist from HIR.

Monica Nyström from Vasaholms Trädgård is already today investing in biological plant protection in their nursery-garden and buys plants from a Danish grower who also uses biological control methods.

Margareta Hökeberg, SLU, and Agneta Sundberg from the Swedish Board of Agriculture informed about the new EU regulatory framework and how this will be introduced in Sweden. In the future, non-chemical pest management methods will be prevailed and more attention will be given to the environmental and health aspects in the authorization of plant protection products.

Access to methods and preparations for biological control will therefore be important in both organic and conventional farming. Margareta Hökeberg emphasized that there is a great potential for the use of biological control. But while the number of scientific publications in the area has increased exponentially the development of new commercial preparations is hampered due to lack of funding.