Science Into Practice - Phase three plans for Tuta absoluta control

Tuta absoluta, an increasingly important pest of tomato crops in southern Europe, is extremely damaging and currently controlled by intensive chemical pesticide applications. But such products would not be compatible with biological control agents.

Organic crops are particularly vulnerable - growers would not be allowed to use synthetic pesticides and retain organic status. The financial loss to UK growers could be more than £300,000 per hectare.

HDC project PC 302 aimed to enable UK growers to retain organic production status when faced with an outbreak of Tuta absoluta. However, the control measures will have a knock-on benefit for all conventional growers and in particular those who are trying to minimise synthetic chemical pesticides use.

The original project was split into three phases. Phase 1 began in August 2009 and focused on the development of a short-term solution that could be implemented immediately. WSG was in a unique position in that it had crops in southern Europe that were already infested and in which efficacy trials could be done on a large scale.

Within 10 months, phase 1 had successfully developed a short-term control measure. It also paved the way towards longer-term more sustainable control measures that could be further evaluated in this phase of the project.

Phase 3 will evaluate cost-effective application rates of entomopathogenic nematodes, refine methods of applying spinosad through the irrigation system and evaluate combined pheromone and light traps.


HDC Bulbs Panel Meeting, Spalding, 17 May.

Horticultural Development Company

For details on all HDC activity, visit

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