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Vegetal extracts:

If it is well documented that a number of vegetal extracts show fungicide or insecticide effects, the main challenge is to define the best formulation and concentration, crop by crop. These extracts also start to be tested and used in IPM to lower the dose of other compounds such as copper or sulphur.

The big potential in biopesticides applications!

foliage cell, but the effect is only preventive.


In tropical countries, some species have been known for a long time for their insecticide effects. The decoction of Quassia amara L. is still being explored in different countries. Its inhibitive action on sucking insects (aphids) is based on the main active ingredient: quassin. Some preparations such as Quassian (Andermatt Biocontrol) are already registered against aphids. Quassia has been tested against the apple sawfly for many years by Fredon (France) , in the framework of the Transorganic II project1. Since 2008, in collaboration with the CRA-W of Gembloux

VARIOUS PLANTS HAVE BEEN USED in organic production under the formula of decoctions, infusions, extracted molecules or essential oils for a long time. Garlic as acaricide; pyrethrins or comfreys against aphids; nasturtium or sorrel against cankers to name but a few of the well-known examples. These vegetal compounds are mostly dedicated to protection against pathogenic fungi, nematodes or insect pests, but some can also show herbicide efficacy. Other plant extracts have been studied during the last years, especially molecules of fructose and saccharose used as insecticide (apple, maize). Also fatty compounds show interesting properties : soya lecithin is tested as fungicide in Bio-Blatt (produced by Neudorff), which is a natural extract against powdery mildew, preventing fungi to enter the crop

(Belgium) in the TransBioFruit project2, a study programme has also been implemented on this subject. After six years of monitoring in the north of France, the efficiency of the application of a farm-prepared Quassia amara decoction was confirmed and various criteria of efficiency were better known. The decoction is sprayed at a rate of at least 20kg/ha, at the beginning and at the end of the falling of the blossoms. At the same time, in 2008, Fredon started testing the efficiency of other farm preparations against lettuce aphids under controlled conditions. In Germany, different studies done by Foko show that Quassia is a very selective product and shows activities only on very few insect species

such as apple aphids. Still, the reliability of the efficacy is much lower than that of synthetic products. And it is difficult to establish the right application date. For organic fruit production in Germany, the recommendation is to add Quassia to a neem natural extract at the end of tree blossom. Neem extract (Azadirachtin) is certainly one of the best-known insecticides in India and many countries. The extract of neem-tree fruits is able to work as a systemic insecticide, efficient within a few hours. It has a wide spectrum against aphids and sucking pests such as whiteflies and thrips. But according to Trifolio: there is still a lot to do with Neem: more and new countries, more indications on more crops!


Several new compounds have been already formulated in the past years. This is the case of Nemguard, a garlic extract registered by Biogard (CBC Group) as nematicide for horticultural crops in several European countries. Garlic contains numerous biologically active ingredients, including allicin and polysulfides.The active substance of Nemguard includes fingerprinted polysulfides



protected by four patent families. Another example is rutacea extract (Soleo) used by Daymsa to strengthen crops and protect them against botrytis and powdery mildew. Daymsa is developing this extract as a complement or alternative to fungicides during harvesting time. Some plant extracts can also control some pests: Terpenes constituents of Chenopodium ambrosioides are active against thrips, whiteflies, mites... but are considered to be safe for beneficial insects. These terpenes can kill pests by contact and dessication. A commercial compound based on these components (Requiem) is sold by Bayer Crop Science for different crops: pepper, tomatoes, grapes, treenuts... Requiem is a quick-acting insecticide, rapidly eliminating sucking pests and controlling all stages. In Isral, the Stockton group has launched a new generation of natural fungicides based on tea tree plants (Melaleuca alternifolia) developed for the control of fungal diseases in edible crops. This natural botanical fungicide (Timotex Gold) containing 222 gr/lit of the extract of the tea tree plant. The product is registered and commercially used in 23 countries including USA and is in the registration process in EU countries. The active substance is used for the control of a wide range of plant diseases such as downy mildew, early and late blights, cercospora, botrytis, pyricularia, rusts and others. The product is registered for a variety of crops such as banana, vegetables, vineyards, coffee and other plantations, orchards. Many new biofungicides based on plant extracts are being developed by companies such as Daymsa and Trifolio M with a preparation based on Glycerrhiza glabra. But David Bernad from Daymsa points out that only a few companies in Europe have registered natural products with a limited number of products in the market and a limited use.


In western Europe, local vegetal species certainly need a better

exploration and screening for their protective effects on crops. Knowing that high doses of copper, added each year, can be a risk for the environment, Researchers decided to test several vegetal extracts as substitutes to copper on vineyard in France: Equisetum arvense; Salix alba, Artemisia vulgaris, Artemisia absinthium, Menta piperata, Frangula dodonei , Rheum... all common species in Europe. During 3 years from 20102012, GRAB, ADAbio and IFV have tested different low doses of copper mixed with plant extracts, in labs and in the field. Under high disease pressure, most of these extracts used alone are not efficient. But some mix can be interesting. This study indicates that the efficiency of Frangula dodonei or Artemisia associated to a low dose on copper can give equivalent efficacy compared to a full dose of copper. In some cases, efficacy of these mixes is better than copper at low doses. So there could be a synergetic effect. The difficulty comes from the dependability in results. Most of the time, plantbased preparations varies with several factors: origin, age, and how the preparation is made (concentration, temperature, conservation...) Different modes of application preventive or systematic can also explain variations. To go further, other trials mixing copper or sulphur with vegetal extracts were sprayed on orchards.

Alcoholic extracts of Artemisia, Salix and Equisetum showed efficacy on apple and pear fleck.


An essential oil is a concentrated hydrophobic liquid containing volatile aroma compounds from

plants. It usually carries a distinctive scent, or essence, of the plant. Essential oil is generally extracted by distillation. Slowly, essential oils make their way in niche markets: vineyards or horticultural crops. Their use requires a precise dosage, depending on the crop stage. A new preparation 100% natural (Prev-am by Vivagro) has been registered in Europe, based on orange essential oils. It can be used on tomato and cucurbits against whiteflies (Trialeurodes vaporariorum and Bemisia tabaci). It is efficient on both larvae and adults. The orange terpens are able to dry molecules of the insect cuticule in a short time (24 to 72 hours). This physical mode of action is recommended on white flies, with 500 liters/ha spraying. Prev-am is completely biodegradable, and accepted in organic farming. It can be tank-mixed with other compounds and leaves no

News in Brief

European Union awards 8 million euros in research budget for new bio products for agricultural and pharma applications
THE BUDGET IS EARMARKED for the research and development of novel biological pesticides and fungicides. It has been won by 11 organizations, including the Israeli Group Stockton. Stockton, which specializes in the development and marketing of eco-friendly solutions for the crop protection market, and whose share in the awarded budget is approx. 1 million Euros, is responsible for researching natural substances for agricultural applications and to developing crop protection products based on these agents. The research work of the consortium, which is led by Copenhagen University, is expected to take three years. The Consortium's partners include four universities dedicated to basic research, two universities that focus on collecting plant material from various regions of the globe, a raw material manufacturer, commercial pharma and cosmetics companies, and Stockton, which is responsible for the pesticide aspect of the new developments. Ziv Tirosh, CEO of Stockton, commented, "We are proud to be part of the development of a new product with some of Europe's leading universities in this area and the Weizmann Institute from Israel, with which we are collaborating on several other projects. We thank the European Union for its vote of confidence in trusting the product development to us. Together with our consortium partners, we look forward to creating new bio products which will be of value to the European and global agriculture." The European Union is planning to phase out many products in addition to the many hundreds of molecules which have been discontinued following many decades of intensive use by growers. With this and other initiatives, the EU is sending a strong message of support to the crop protection industry.



potato crops. Based on pine tree terpenic polymers, this adjuvant is used with contact fungicide as a sticker. On potatoes, experiments show that Helioterpen significantly improves mancozebe efficacy against downy mildew (Phytophtora infestans), especially under high disease pressure. The next step is to use this type of adjuvant to lower fungicide dose without impairing efficacy.


residues. Other examples of essential oil efficacy come to commercial use, as thyme oil against wheat diseases such as Septoria. ties of Ghent, Lige, Lille, which are developing and studying new biomolecules, in particular biosurfactants, that are likely to be used as biological pest control agents against phytopathogens. Farming and horticultural associations are also emerging to promote new cropping practices and a new integrated farming to reduce inputs and in particular plant protection products of non-organic origin. One example is Helioterpen (Action Pin), added to fungicide on All the effects of plant extracts are certainly far from being explored. Herbicide activity opens a new era of development. A component was launched a few years ago by Neudorff, based on pelargonic acid (extract from pelargonium species). Pelargonic acid efficacy is limited as it is active only by contact on weeds. Marrone Bio Innovations, Inc. (MBI), has found other applications. Marrone recently announced the issuance of a U.S. patent for sarmentine, a new bioherbicide, currently identi-


In order to lower doses of chemical residues, surfactants such as rapeseed oil and vegetal fatty acids can be used as fungicides additives. The regions of the NPDC-FlandersWallonia programme have a variety of research teams in universi-

fied as MBI-011. The herbicidal activity of sarmentine was isolated from the extract of a pepper species (Piper longum L.) by MBI chemists. The formulations were submitted to the United States Environmental Protection Agency in December 2012 for registration as a herbicide. This compound can control annual and perennial grasses as well as broadleaf weeds in the agricultural, turf and ornamental sectors. The issuance of the sarmentine patent is a milestone for MBI, which has submitted over 180 patent applications from its library of 18,000 microorganisms and 350 plant extracts, as well as from in-licensed technology. says Dr. Alison Stewart, MBIs Chief Science Officer, responsible for the companys patent strategy and portfolio. Though registration is complex especially in Europe, many companies are developing the screening of vegetal species that could provide clean solutions in IPM. A business that is certainly not going to get much bigger! n



North America & Europe Biopesticides Market:

Accelerated Growth foreseen

THE REPORT North America Biopesticides Market 2013 published by CPL Business Consultants shows that the North American biopesticides market is estimated to have been worth $497.3 million at user-level in 2010; an increase of approximately 27.5% from 2008. The USA is the biggest user of microbials in the region with a market estimated to be worth $372.4 m (74.8% of the total), followed by Canada and, then, Mexico. The North American biopesticide sector in 2010 represented approximately 3.7% of the total pesticide market (3.6% in Canada, 6% in Mexico and 3.5% in the US). (including Bt H14 for mosquitoes) has decreased from an estimated 90% in the late 1990s to 51.2% in 2010. The US is the biggest user of microbials in the region with a market estimated to be worth $110 million (79% of the total), followed by Mexico and, then, Canada, where insect pests are far less prevalent. The fastest growing sectors in the US have been the fungicidal products based on Bacillus subtilis and fungal-based materials. Prospects for growth in sales in the US overall remain good although there is no evidence for the meteoric rise predicted earlier in the decade. The market in Mexico for Bacillus subtilis has increased and there is a steadily growing sector in locally-produced, fungal-based products. Sales are large and product is cheap. Canada is not a large user of either insecticides or fungicides but the prospects for growth are good in response to government encouragement and pesticide bans. Although overall growth in the microbial biopesticide market in North America has not lived up to the expectations of the 1990s, the potential remains high and opportunities exist which have the potential and IBCAs. The largest individual European biopesticide market is Spain, followed by Italy and France. Biopesticides now represent 5.04% of the European pesticide market. In an earlier report, Frost and Sullivan had estimated the European biopesticide market in 2000 at $97.1 million of which beneficial insects took $53.5 million (55%), microbial pesticides $25.1 million (26%) and semiochemicals $18.5 million (19%). Based on these numbers, it is possible to calculate growth rates that suggest a CAGR of 16.91% for the European biopesticide sector since 2000. All the indicators suggest that we will see growth in biopesticide sales accelerate into and through 2013 and on to 2020. This speed change has been confirmed by a substantial move by the agrochemical majors into the biopesticide business during 2012, notably through acquisition of some of the key players, such as Becker Underwood (by BASF) and AgraQuest (Bayer CropScience). n


The North American microbial biopesticides market is estimated to have been worth $139.8 million at user-level in 2010; an increase of 10.3% since 2007. Although growth has been seen in some sectors, notably products based on Bacillus subtilis, sales of Bacillus thuringiensis for caterpillar control have either stagnated or, indeed, declined (notably in the forestry sector). The proportion of the microbials market taken by Bt-based products

to raise the total market to $250 million by 2020.


The same report shows that the European market for biopesticides is estimated to be worth approximately $541.4 million at end-user level. The breakdown of the figures indicates that approximately half the market can be attributed to invertebrate biocontrol agents and pollinators (IBCAs). The areas with the largest growth are in biochemicals



News in Brief

Female detection of synthetic sex pheromone contributes to the efficacy of moth pest control
A STUDY WAS CARRIED OUT to test the effects of the exposure to synthetic species-specific sexpheromone on Lobesia botrana (European grapevine moth) females. The study by Dr. Ally Harari, of Ben Gurion University, Israel, revealed that females in vineyards that were treated with mating disruption pheromone moved significantly more agitatedly, but called significantly less frequently than in untreated plots. Reduced calling caused by exposure to the speciesspecific sex-pheromone may increase the age at which females mate and thereby reduce females' fecundity. Females that called in a pheromone-saturated environment experienced a decrease in number of oviposited eggs. A further decrease in reproductive success occur if females delay oviposition as they search for areas with less airborne pheromone, probably, as it may indicate less intraspecific competition. It is concluded, therefore, that in addition to the already known reduction in the ability of males to locate females, the mating-disruption technique can suppress pest numbers as a consequence of its direct effects on the females. The two mechanisms probably act synergistically.

Gowan and Isagro Partnership Formed

GOWAN GROUP AND ISAGRO S.p.A. recently announced a partnership to marry Isagros research and discovery capability with Gowans field development and face to market. The partnership is grounded in an investment by Gowan in a new company which will own a majority of Isagro shares. There is no change in control in Isagro; this continues with Piemme S.r.L. In the short and medium term, Gowan USA and Gowan Italia will assume distribution for some of Isagros proprietary products. The two partners participate equally in a business steering committee to identify business opportunities and consequent synergies for both companies. A number of active ingredients and technology collaboration are on the agenda now. "This agreement," Giorgio Basile, President and C.E.O. of Isagro commented, "reinforces and projects in the long term Isagros industrial project, also thanks to a strengthening in its financial structure. At this stage, we can measure only part of mid-long term synergies, with significant additional upsides still to be seized. Fully identified synergies will offset (in the medium term) potential short-term negative effects related to the termination, partial or total, of other distribution agreements with third parties that Isagro might face in the short term as a consequence of the agreement. Gowan Group is a 50 year old family company based in Yuma, Arizona. Together with its affiliates, Gowan develops, registers and markets conventional and biorational pest control products in many countries. We specialize in challenging niche pest problems for growers. Our original retail roots continue to prosper and keep us grounded.

SDP turns towards green chemistry

THE FRENCH COMPANY SDP is moving towards green chemistry. The last-born product is the adjuvant TRS2/ Cocktail, formulated with sunflower extracts and ethanol coming from cereals. It is marketed in France, the UK, Germany and Belgium and registered for herbicide application. While adjuvants have been until now SDPs main business, the range of products is also expanding with nutrition specialities, biostimulants such as Activeine (seaweed extracts with trace elements) and roots activators such as Microbio (boron + Mo + co-formulants). Other projects are talked about: a biofungicide based on essential oils and a bio-herbicide currently tested in Hungary. All SDP products are tested on an 8 hectares platform near the main office as well as in greenhouses. Recently, SDP has taken a strategic international turn, expanding in 21 countries including Spain, Tukey or Argentina. The company has also announced a project to build formulation units abroad. SDP, created in 1991, expects a turnover of 15.5 million Euros in 2013.

Biopesticide from tapioca developed in India

The Central Tuber Crops Research Institute (CTCRI) here has developed a bio-pesticide from tapioca for effectively tackling pests destroying vegetable and fruit plants. The pilot application of the pesticide in banana plantations here has been found highly successful and it could be considered a major step forward in avoiding ill-effects of chemical pesticides, especially in view of growing worldwide demand for organic products, a senior scientist at the CTCRI said. The research in this direction was conducted by a team led by Dr C A Jayaprakas, Principal Scientist & Head, Division of Crop Protection. "We isolated the insecticidal principles from the leaves and tuber rinds of tapioca (cassava) and developed the bio-pesticides which could act against noxious insect pests afflicting field crops," Jayaprakas said. Tapioca is an important tuber crop cultivated in over 80 countries and its tubers are used as a staple or subsidiary food. The bio-pesticides from cassava could be used for management of borer pests like pseudostem weevil (Odoiporus longicollis) in banana, red palm weevil (Rhynchophorus ferrugineus) and other borer pests of tree and fruits crops. A formulation has also been made against sucking pests like mealy bugs, aphids and leaf eating caterpillars.

New bio-pesticide for East African horticulture

SINERIA INDUSTRIES FROM CYPRUS in Cooperation with Chemtura Agrosolutions subsidiaries in Africa has launched the bio-pesticide LEVO 2.4 SL to the growing horticulture and ornamental industry in East Africa. The bio-pesticide is an IPM Compliant product; an approved input by major supermarkets in Europe as a pest control product which can be used on fresh produce such as various fresh herbs, ornamentals and vegetables imported to Europe from East Africa. It is a natural plant agent, refined and produced from wild medicinal plants. Oxymatrine, the products active ingredient, acts on the central nervous system of pests which results in breath inhibition and motion imbalance. It does not contain any synthetic chemical. Last year Levo 2.4 SL was accredited for organic Farming by IMO of Switzerland and by that expanded the spectrum of usage of the product into this important niche market, enabling farmers to have a broader spectrum of solutions which are safe and environmentally approved. LEVO 2.4 SL has a very low toxicity to beneficial insects and causes no pollution to the environment, water or soil. LEVO 2.4 SL is characterized by its high efficiency, low toxicity, wide spectrum and quick results causing no harm and no residue.



Potential development of novel postharvest decay management in apples

A JOINT RESEARCH TEAM from the US and Israel, headed by Dr. Michael Wisniewski (Appalachian Fruit research Station, USDA-ARS, US) and Prof. Samir Droby (ARO, the Volcani Center, Israel) is aiming at providing the tools for apple breeders to develop cultivars resistant to the postharvest blue-mold decay caused by Penicillium expansum. P. expansum is the major cause of postharvest losses in apples. It is also of great concern to the apple processing industry, due to the production of the mycotoxin patulin. Chemical fungicides are currently the primary means to control the mold, but concerns about risks involved in their residues in the fruit have prompted the development of alternative methods, such as biological approaches. One of the best means, however, to control plant diseases is the use of resistant cultivars. Genetic mapping of blue-mold resistance in 170 apple genotypes was conducted, along with fruit quality traits (firmness, acidity, color, soluble solids). The mapping identified two quantitative trait loci, one on linkage group (LG) 4 and one on LG 10. RNA-seq data clearly demonstrated differential gene expression in individual and pooled susceptible and resistant genotypes. The genome of P. expansum was sequenced and a de novo assembly constructed. Twelve putative Lysine motif (LysM) effector genes were identified. And analysis of the secretome was performed. Eight LysM effectors were identified among the 320 secreted proteins, and their expression in the decayed tissue verified by qPCR. The data obtained will aid apple breeders to identify markers that can be utilized to develop cultivars resistant to P. expansum postharvest decay. The project also studied the role of effectors, produced by the said fungus, to actively suppress natural fruit immunity responses, hence, to facilitate the infection and development of postharvest decay. Elucidating the role of LysM effectors in pathogenicity of P. expansum on apple fruit will potentially lead to the development of new and novel decay management strategies.

Prof. Michael Raviv of the Agricultural Research Organization in Israel, has recently put together a comprehensive review about feasible uses of composts for suppression of soil-borne disease in soilless media
Pathogen Clavibacter michiganense subsp. michiganensis Cylindrocladium spathiphylli Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. melonis F. oxysporum f. sp. radicis-lycopersici F. oxysporum f. sp. basilici F. oxysporum f.sp. dianthi Meloidogyne incognita Meloidogyne javanica Pythium ultimum Pythium aphanidermatum Phytophthora cinnamomi P. cinnamomi P. citricola P. nicotianae P. nicotianae Rhizoctonia solani Rhizoctonia solani Rhizoctonia solani Sclerotinia minor Sclerotium rolfsii Rhizoctonia solani Sclerotium rolfsii Verticillium dahliae * Main components. Host Tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) Spathiphyllum spp. Melon (Cucumis melo) Tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) Sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum) Carnation (Dianthus caryophyllus) Tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) Tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) Cucumber (Cucumis sativus) Cucumber (Cucumis sativus) Rhododendron catawbiense Aucuba japonica Aucuba japonica Various citruses at the nursery stage Tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) Poinsettia (Euohorbia pulcherrima) Radish (Raphanus sativus) Cucumber (Cucumis sativus) Lettuce (Lactuca sativa) Radish (Raphanus sativus) Cucumber (Cucumis sativus) Radish (Raphanus sativus) Eggplant (Solanum melongena) Compost feedstock* Greenhouse waste Green waste compost Greenhouse waste; prunings Greenhouse waste Greenhouse waste Separated cattle manure (SCM) Hard wood bark, olive pomace Municipal solid waste (MSW) Cattle manure; Greenhouse waste Hard wood bark Licorice compost, sugarcane residues, Grape marc Hard wood bark Soft & hard wood bark Soft & hard wood bark MSW Olive press cake Hard wood bark SCM, grape marc MSW Sewage sludge SCM, grape marc MSW Cattle manure, grape marc Horse manure Reference Yogev et al., 2009 van der Gaag et al., 2007 Raviv et al., 2005; Ros et al., 2005; Yogev et al., 2006 Cheuk et al., 2005; Raviv et al., 2005 Reuveni et al., 2002 Pera & Filippi, 1987; Pera & Calvet, 1989 Ryckeboer & Coosemans, 1996 Oka & Yermiyahu, 2002; Raviv et al., 2005 Chen et al., 1987 Hadar & Mandelbaum, 1986; Theodore & Toribio, 1995; Santos et al., 2008 Hoitink et al., 1977 Spencer & Benson, 1981 Spencer & Benson, 1981 Widmer et al., 1998 Ntougias et al., 2008 Hoitink et al., 1979 Gorodecki & Hadar, 1990 Tuitert, 1998 Lumsden et al., 1986 Gorodecki & Hadar, 1990 Tuitert, 1998 Gorodecki & Hadar, 1990 Malandraki et al., 2008

F. oxysporum f. sp. radicis-cucumerinum Cucumber (Cucumis sativus)



News in Brief

Bayer CropScience to open integrated R&D site in West Sacramento, California

Bayer CropScience plans to consolidate and expand its U.S.-based R&D operations for vegetable seeds and biological crop protection products in a new site in West Sacramento, California. The integrated site, with an existing office and laboratory building on ten acres of land, has the capacity to employ approximately 300 people. The vegetable seeds research, as well as the companys Biologics business management, both located in Davis, California, will move about ten miles to West Sacramento in Q1/2014. The site will also include a pilot plant, and additionally Bayer CropScience has identified nearby land for greenhouse and test plot purposes in West Sacramento. "We are focused on better leveraging our full research and development capabilities by both consolidating and expanding our global R&D organization," said Dr. David Nicholson, Bayer CropSciences Head of Research & Development. "Our new facilities in West Sacramento will enable us to deliver integrated crop solutions more rapidly by intensifying the research links between our vegetable seeds and Biologics experts and thus strengthening our innovative power." Johan Peleman, Head of Vegetable Seeds R&D, added: "The new location offers top-notch equipment and allows for a stimulating exchange across disciplines. At the same time, we can further strengthen our bonds with the University of California at Davis, one of the worlds top plant science institutes." Bayer CropScience will use the new site to expand and accelerate the development of innovative products which will be marketed worldwide as part of integrated crop solutions through its global network of field sales and technical resources. "Integrated crop solutions, with biologics and vegetable seeds as key components, will give growers worldwide new tools to manage the diverse demands of the food chain while maximizing the yield and quality of their crops" added Mike Miille, Head of Business Management Biologics at Bayer CropScience.

Researchers study fire ant venom as natural fungicide

Red imported fire ants are named for the fire-like burn of their sting. Now, the same venom that packs such a painful wallop may actually do some good for a change. As recently reported in Seedquest, studies by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists in Stoneville, Miss., have shown that certain alkaloid compounds in the venom piperideines and piperdines can hinder the growth of the crop pathogen Pythium ultimum. Chemical fungicides, delayed plantings and crop rotation are among methods now used to control P. ultimum, which causes damping-off diseases that decay the seed or seedling of vegetable, horticultural and cucurbit crops. Despite such measures, damping-off remains a costly problem, and new approaches are needed, according to Jian Chen, an entomologist with USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS). ARS is USDA's chief intramural scientific research agency. Chen is coinvestigating the potential application of fire ant venom to manage soilborne pathogens like P. ultimum in collaboration with ARS microbiologist Xixuan Jin, and Shezeng Li of the Institute of Plant Protection in Baoding, China. For their studies, conducted at the ARS Biological Control of Pests Research Unit in Stoneville, the researchers used sophisticated extraction techniques to obtain purified amounts of piperideine and piperidine from the venom glands of both red and black imported fire ants, which are considered invasive pests and a dominant species on more than 320 million acres in the South as well as in other states and Puerto Rico. In petri dish trials, the researchers exposed P. ultimum's threadlike growth form, called mycelium, to various concentrations of the alkaloids and monitored the effect on the pathogen's colony size. Its spore-forming structures, called sporangia, were similarly exposed. The results include significant reductions in the growth and germination of the pathogen's mycelium. Both alkaloids performed equally well and retained their activity against P. ultimum for up to 12 weeks when stored at room temperature. Additionally, more than 90 percent of sporangia failed to germinate when exposed to the alkaloids at concentrations of 51.2 micrograms per milliliter. Synthetic versions of the alkaloids, called analogs, have also inhibited several cultured human fungal pathogens. Read more about this research in the August 2013 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.

Biocontrol of broad mite

Research conducted by Dr. Phyllis Weintraub of the Agricultural Research Organization Gilat Research Center in Israel, has focused on the biological control of the broad mite (Polyphagotarsonemus latus), which is a plantfeeding pest. It attacks numerous plants; greenhouse vegetable crops and citrus orchards are particularly vulnerable. These mites, being very small, hide on the underside of young leaves or in the newly developing plant tips and therefore cause great damage to developing seedlings. They can quickly move throughout a greenhouse because they climb onto whiteflies and are transported by phoresis. Furthermore, their generation time is 5-7 days, so they grow to large populations in a short period of time. The most effective current control method in greenhouses is with vaporized sulfur, which may not be permitted for use in the future. In an effort to reduce the chemical control of the broad mite, a number of predatory mites have been tested, which, due to their small size, are able to easily attack the pest. Of the mighty predators tested, Neoseiulus cucumeris was found to be very effective. It has the added advantage of being a thrips predator, although only the first and possibly second thrips instars are small enough for it to handle. Neoseiulus swirskii is a more generalist predator, and in addition to effectively controlling the broad mite, it can also offer some control of thrips and whiteflies. Finally, it has been found that Euseius scutalis is effective too against the broad mite, but to a lesser extent than the former two mighty predators. With all of these mites it is important to release them early in the season, before the pest develops large and damaging populations. The efficacy of the predatory mites is increased if supplemental food such as pollen is put on the plants. An electrostatic pollen applicator is being developed to easily coat plants with an alternative food for the predatory mites.




Tree crops represent 4.4% of the cropland in the 27 European Union countries, but they represent 14% of the total pesticide consumption. New regulations are increasingly restricting the excessive use of pesticides and appropiate application methods are crucial to fulfill the European pesticide reduction goals. During the European Precision Agriculture Congress (ECPA), held in Lleida, Catalonia, Spain, many new prototypes of spraying machines that adjust the application dose depending on the tree canopy were highlighted.
THE LOCAL TEAM THAT ORGANISED ECPA belongs to the Research Group on AgroITC & Precision Agriculture, founded in 2004 bringing together researchers from four institutions (University of Lleida, Polytechnic University of Catalonia, Polytechnic University of Valencia and the Centre of Agricultural Mechanization of the Generalitat of Catalonia). Most of this group`s research activities are directly linked to plant protection: electronic canopy characterization and weed detection; dose adjustment of plant protection products & decision support systems and variable-rate application of plant protection products in tree crops. It constitutes the reference group in

spray application techniques in Spain, with 11 patents and utility models in this area.


One of the most promising technologies for the geometric characterization of the canopies in the agricultural sphere is based on the use of LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) sensors. The use of this type of sensor is based on the measurement of the distance from a laser emitter to an object or surface. Its principal characteristics include, most notably, a fast meas-

uring speed and a high degree of accuracy. LIDAR systems can generate 3D digitalized models of crops with sufficient accuracy for most agricultural applications. A vast amount of information can be obtained from these models including height, width, volume, Leaf Area Index (LAI) and leaf area density. We have created a prototype based on these sensors mounted on a special vehicle that we use for research and teaching purposes. With this information we have been working along three lines. One is the development of a vari-

able rate application sprayer that turns nozzles on and off depending on the canopy`s characteristics. It is mounted with a GPS, LIDAR and special electrovalves. We have also used this knowledge to create an online tool that helps farmers to determine the optimal dose of plant protection products. That is the DOSAFRUT project where we have incorporated our LAI estimations from this technology and we have also provided pictograms of referencial types of orchards, so farmers can determine which are similar to their own condition, without using a sensor in their



fields. And now we are using this technology to find any difference withing fields that deserve future observations, such as changes in vigour, says Dr Alex Escol (University of Lleida), the convener of ECPA.


In Europe tree crops receive more than three times the average quantity of pesticides used for arable crops. The lack of a universal method for determining suitable pesticide doses in real orchard situations is one of the most important constraints affecting the sustainability of pesticide use in tree crops, says Santiago Planas (Universitat de Lleida, Spain). In addition to the traditional pesticide dosing method, which is based on the pesticide concentration in the tank (g/100 l), other methods for determining recommended pesticide doses have appeared in the last two decades. These methods take into account structural parameters of orchards. They include the Pesticide Adjustment to the Crop Environment (PACE) method for fruit orchards (Walklate and Cross, 2005), the Canopy Height method and the Tree Row Volume (TRV) method, which was adapted to vineyards in Switzerland by Viret and Hhn (2008). More recently, the Leaf Wall Area (LWA) method has been proposed by the chemical industry (Wohlhauser, 2009).

However, LWA, which was evaluated by Walklate and Cross (2012) in narrow canopy orchards, is difficult to adopt successfully in regions where wide-canopy training systems are used (e.g. Southern Europe). This is because leafiness is a critical factor to be considered when determining dose recommendations. The Lleida group developed a method for estimating the Leaf Area Index. This methodology was then implemented in a decision support system (DOSAFRUT) and validated over four seasons, 2009-2012. DOSAFRUT is an online tool where users can adjust the volume application rate according to several factors: the specific dimensions and leaf density of the trees, the sprayer to be used, the type of product being applied, the pest or disease to be controlled and the weather conditions expected during the application period. The system is specially designed for apples and pears and a version

for stone fruits is being programmed. Based on the canopy characterization created with the LIDAR technology the system offer farmers different pictograms of canopy sizes and trellising systems, so farmers can choose the one which is closest to their reality. During 2009-2011 the DOSAFRUT Method was validated through studies of pesticide deposits on targeted leaves and the biological efficacy of the applied pesticides for controlling Psylla piri (psylla), Tetranichus urticae (res spider mite), and Frankiniella occidentalis (trips) in comercial pear, apple and peach orchards. The orchard was divided into three blocks: untreated trees (control), tree sprayed using the standard spray volumen and tree sprayed using the recomended volumen determined using DOSAFRUT. The tank mix concentration remained constant for all the applications. DOSAFRUT provided adjusted

treatment doses, enabling savings of between 14% and 53% (volume reduction) as compared to the doses typically adopted by farmers and technical advisors (standard dose).


A group from the University of Torino (Italy), led by M. Tomagnone, presented an automatic system to easily adapt the vertical spray profile from orchard/vineyard sprayers to plant canopy characteristics (height and size). Typically, the sprayer is adjusted to guarantee an adecuate spray coverage on the most dense canopies present in the farm, but this setting is then excessive for other small or less dense plants, says Mr. Tomagnone. The prototype was developed in collaboration with Nobili spa and Arag srl companies. Activation of every single nozzle and feeding of each nozzle was made independent and it was managed through Arag Seletron devices which allow spraying of every single nozzle to be stopped and are connected on a CAN-bus line. A conventional sprayer equipped with this innovative system was used successfully in 2012 in a 30 ha orchard farm in North Western Italy. The system developed allowed management of the vertical spray profile from an airassisted sprayer in an easy way, adapting it to the vegetation characteristics. This system, if integrated with a GPS, could provide a fully automatic management of the spray application on the farm; the sprayer would automatically select the correct nozzle configuration depending on its position and therefore on the characteristics of the target plants.

Figure 2: Correlation between orchard structure (obtained with the LIDAR sensor) and leaf area index for four tree crops.


Figure 1: Digital apply orchard model obtained using a LIDAR sensor (left) and the related diagram used to estimate the proportion of gaps in the canopy. This image represents gaps totalling 39% of tghe row surface (right).

A group from Cornell University, led by Jordi Llorens has developed a prototype of a variable rate



Figure 3: Detail of air outlets and nozzles of the air-assisted sprayer Nobili Geo 9DS UT.

spraying machine. The system makes one adjustment of liquid flow for an apple tree sprayer and one adjustment of air flow for a vineyard sprayer using the louvre system. In both cases the adjustment is made using the information provided by one sensing system for scanning the vegetation composed of a multiple array of ultrasonic sensors. Two air assited sprayers were used. One for fruit crop with one Lechler VarioSelect system for proportional liquid application. The second sprayer is designed for vineyards and equipped with the louvre system for adjusting the outlet of air from the axial-fan. For vegetation detection the sensing system proposed is based in on array of ultrasonic sensors that are capable of adapting to the both kinds of vegetation, in this case trees and grapevines. To adjust the liquid flow rate in fruit spraying, the system uses a coefficient of application of 0.1275 L/m3. With this coefficient the system can calculate the total flow rate instantaneous that will apply the different nozzle configuration. For the adjustment of the air flow, the system is able to adjust the position of one electric actuator and in consequence the position of the louvre system designed by Cornell University. The preliminary results show that in both cases, air and liquid, the

application rate appropriate for each development stage of the crop can be correctly estimated, though it will be necessary to contrast the deposition results next season with field tests.


A group from the University of Florence, Italy, led by Mr. D. Sarri presented the Rhea Project (Robot fleets Highly for Effective Agriculture and forestry management, a new automatic generation of robotic systems to perform field operations. The prototype is a ground mobile unit (GMI): 4x4 wheel drive. The researchers presented a trial in olive trees, where different solutions about pesticide spraying and air vector devices management were investigated. After checking many configura-

tions, the selected one for woody perennial crops was a double side air blast sprayer (based on Nobili Oktopus air blast sprayer) with eight separate spraying modules on four vertical bands of the canopy. The prototype has a detection system composed of eight ultrasonic sensors, to detect data on canopy width in four vertical bands. To control flow rate, two solutions were developed: the first one consists of an intermittent spray nozzle driven by frequency and duty cycle electronically managed. The second one involves the use of double nozzles on each module with 70% and 30% of needed flow rate on each band, which are simultaneously open with full canopy. To manage the air blast flow rate, butterfly valves (step motor controlled) located on the main inlet manifold and in the fan calotte collector were designed. The expected pesticide dosage saving is about 50% of the conventional application rate maintaining, at the same time, the quality of the foliage deposition. n