The importance of biological pest control in environmental horticulture took centre stage at the UK’s ‘Getting to Grips with Biological Pest Control’ technical workshop held last week by the Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) at Thorpe-le-Soken, Essex.
Biological pest control has emerged as a vital plant protection option, particularly for horticultural crops grown under protection, and more recently, on plants that are cultivated outdoors. In its simplest terms, biological pest control means encouraging naturally occurring beneficial insects or introducing commercially reared control agents to achieve pest control on crops. Such ‘macro-agents’ are often used alongside a range of bioprotectants which contain living micro-organisms, botanicals or semiochemicals to give both pest and disease control.
The workshop aimed to enrich HTA members’ knowledge of biocontrol techniques, address product supply and application challenges, and highlight the effectiveness of biological agents in managing pests, while cost-effectively maintaining plant quality.
Wayne Brough, Technical Horticulture Manager at the HTA, commented, “Horticultural crops substantially contribute to the UK’s economy, employment, environment and delivery of Net-Zero. The industry’s efforts, such as through the Ornamental Horticulture Assurance Standard (OHAS) and other initiatives, demonstrate a dedication to implementing integrated pest management principles into crop production. By holding workshops like this, we continue to foster effective and sustainable pest and disease control practices within the horticulture sector.”
The workshop agenda encompassed a comprehensive line-up of expert presentations and practical sessions designed to equip attendees with valuable insights into the world of biological pest control. Highlights from the event included:
Practical considerations included devising biocontrol programmes, exploring dos and don’ts, introduction rates and delivery, challenges for various crop situations and integration with crop protection products.
In collaboration with Bioline Agrosciences, Zest-Sustainable ICM, and Berry Garden Growers, the event brought experts and professionals together to explore the latest advancements. Delegates also had the opportunity in the afternoon to explore the production facilities of Bioline Agrosciences gaining insights into insect rearing, product quality control, packaging, and supply.