Top defences against pests and diseases revealed at BPOA conference

Results of trials presented to delegates at British Protected Ornamentals Association Conference.

McPherson: presented research
McPherson: presented research

(NB. See clarification below)

Signum and Actara have topped recent Horticultural Development Company (HDC) trials, findings of which were presented at the British Protected Ornamentals Association's spring conference and AGM. Biopesticide trials have yet to be successful.

Dr Erika Wedgwood of ADAS told delegates Actara (thiamethoxam) remains the best product for western flower thrips but is subject to EC neonicotinoid restrictions "so you can't sell plants you've used it on, but for our experiments it does work". Of eight alternatives including biopesticides, none of them prevented damage and plants were unmarketable.

Stockbridge Technology Centre's Martin McPherson presented ongoing research on rust on Bellis and antirrhinum as well as mildew on aster and pansy. He said Signum is the standard product. In HDC 177 on Bellis rust, one biopesticide worked "about as well as a fungicide", which he said was "a surprising result that we'll follow up".

On antirrhinum rust, Signum and other fungicides worked well but biopesticides did not work so well. On powdery mildew, Signum did a "cracking job" on aster but biopesticides were "not really" effective. The pansy experiment failed.

McPherson's summary was that the standard product Signum was very effective in both trials, while biopesticides had 25-40 per cent control, which he did not find "acceptable". In mildew trials, Signum was the most effective conventional product at 88-100 per cent, while biopesticides caused 14-35 per cent reduction.

Wedgwood said disinfectant work on Fusarium and Pythium saw Foamstream - offered by Weedingtech as an amenity product around water bodies - work well and "commercially may be of use but slowness of application may limit that".

The National Cut Flower Centre's Lyndon Mason said the eight-year-old facility has a long-term plan to develop a crop association role. The new Bedding & Pot Plant Centre at Baginton Nurseries will learn from the cut flower centre's model.

Grower Colin Frampton questioned the usefulness of the research presented when products used in the ongoing HDC grower-funded trials were coded and not named because of commercial sensitivities. Wedgwood promised that when the work is finished results will be given out, but that could take five years of testing.

Technology Infrared Film and LED Solution

Ultraviolet infrared films are "a brilliant technology", Dr Simon Pearson of Freiston Associates/University of Lincoln told the British Protected Ornamentals Association conference. He added: "These materials are the next thing that will come on". He also spoke about the potential of diffused glass.

Stockbridge Technology Centre's Dr Phillip Davis explained how plants lean towards blue light rather than red, showing the first results of Horticultural Development Company project 125, which has mainly been tests on edibles.

At IPM, Philips launched a 25 per cent more efficient GreenPower LED production module for multilayer applications. Designed for vertical city farms as well as for propagating young plants, it will offer more control, improved and uniform crop quality and energy savings.

The results of the Horticultural Development Company-funded trials on testing novel chemical pesticides and biopesticides against western flower thrip (WFT) on verbena showed that Actara (thiamethoxam) and three novel chemical pesticides were equally effective in reducing numbers of WFT larvae compared with water-treated controls on three assessment dates (HW, 6 February). Three novel biopesticides were as effective as Actara and the other three conventional pesticides on one assessment date and two of them were as effective on a second date. None of the treatments (including Actara) prevented unacceptable damage to the flowers and leaves. Therefore the treatments would have most potential for contributing to WFT control as part of an integrated pest management programme.

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