Brassica Growers Conference 2010: Future of brassica pest control looks promising, says entomologist Dr Rosemary Collier

Brassica pests "are not going away" but growers should not feel despondent as many new technologies are being developed.

This was the message given to delegates at this year's Brassica Growers Conference in Lincolnshire on 19 January by entomologist Dr Rosemary Collier. She said that, while there is no single control method that will provide a complete answer for all crops, "there are reasons why we are not to be gloomy".

She said: "In the past 5 to 10 years there have been a lot more active ingredients coming along. There are [now] a number of chemicals that have new modes of action against aphids, beetles, cabbage root fly and caterpillars."

Collier also informed growers that alternative application methods will play a part in future IPM programmes. "What we have to keep in mind is the potential for other methods of application. Seed treatments [for example] are very effective for aphid control — as a trial on Brussels sprouts has showed."

Trials in Norway, she added, are using mesh impregnated with insecticide and have proved "very useful" in controlling unwanted insects.

Biological control will also offer "opportunities" for control, said Collier, as will techniques such as companion planting.

She added that, in the longer term, a lot of opportunities will lie in breeding crops with resistance to various pests — particularly as wild species provide such a huge genetic resource. "There are opportunities for breeding plants with all sorts of attributes," she said.

With this in mind, a new Defra-funded vegetable genetic improvement network — VeGIN — has been set up to better develop these genetic resources to better breed sustainability traits in field vegetables.


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