Mediterranean fruit production plays an important role in European economy. To ensure its competitiveness this sector has to be dynamic, ready to adapt to the consumer demands and sustainable. Specifically, the growing social awareness in Europe has led to a stricter regulation regarding pesticide use resulting in increased interest for the adoption of alternative methods for agricultural pest management such as biological control.
In Mediterranean fruit production, classical biological control has been implemented by means of introduction of new exotic species of natural enemies for the control of invasive pests, whereas in the framework of conservative biological control the maintenance of established populations is usually favored. On the other hand, inundative biological control despite being highly successful in protected crops has frequently generated variable results in open field, apparently due to the inherent complexity of these ecosystems.
The main objective of Team BIOBEST-UPV-INRA is the introduction of inundative biological control in Mediterranean fruit production, taking into account the characteristics of the open field ecosystemstrying also to introduce innovative methods to favor the establishment of the released natural enemies.
The main aim of the UPV-BIOBEST-INRA team is to integrate different knowledge and points of view: Universitat Politècnica de València (UPV) with long experience in Mediterranean fruit trees pest management, BIOBEST a world leader in the production of natural enemies and inundative biological control and Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA) that complements the team with its knowledge on taxonomy and molecular biology.
Specifically, our team aims to develop new strategies for the management of key pests in citrus orchards and table grapes. The efficiency of widely used natural enemies, such as the parasitoid Aphytis melinus to control California red scale, Gaeolaelaps sp. predatory mites to manage Kelly's citrus thrips, and the encyrtid parasitoid Anagyrus sp. near pseudococci to control the vine mealybug will be evaluated. Moreover,the efficacy of other new natural enemies to control these pests, designing mass-rearing procedures and studying the best conditions for their release in Mediterranean open field ecosystems will be assessed.
The adoption of biological control in citrus and grapes orchards will provide European farmers novel, efficient and sustainable methods for pest management in Mediterranean fruit production to the detriment of pesticide use. In that sense, biological control will contribute added value to the agricultural production while at the same time will allow growers to cope with the new legislation and the increasing consumer demand for pesticide free product.
Chile is one of the main producers of avocados from South America with a global production between 150 and 200 MT of avocados. Half of this production is dedicated to the exportation: mainly for the US Market. The competition for exportation becomes stronger and consumers (both internal and external markets) are more and more concerned by the quality of product regarding the final quantity of pesticide residues into the fruits. This context results in an increased of interest for the use of alternative crop protection strategies like agricultural pest management or biological control.
On the one hand, the high level of restriction concerning introduction of foreign organisms in Chile, leads to the necessity to develop indigenous biological control agents (BCA) and to ensure their selection and production. Moreover, national law set, for commercial purpose, a minimal level of quality of the products that companies have to respect. On the other hand, chemical crop protection is still the most common crop protection practices and growers seem to have a strong risk aversion to practices change. So the need to increase confidence in biological control strategy is crucial. That why, in Anasac-Xilema-PUC-INRA team the main objectives are:
- To characterize the pathosystem of the different main crop of Chile and find and evaluate new natural BCA(species or strains) thanks to the use of both morphological and molecular tools ;
- To increase quality of BCA products e.g. with management of the production cost ;
- To develop relevant evaluation of the efficiency of these BCA in field ;
- To improve use and confidence in BCA thanks to improvement of decision tools and decision process e.g. monitoring, decision rules.
Organisation of the Anasac-Xilema-PUC-INRA team must allow synergy between the different fields of expertise of each actor. Indeed, Anasac-Xilema is the leader in the production of natural enemies in Chile and the company guide practices of growers using BCA thanks its Pest Monitoring System (PMS®). The Pontificia Universidad Catolica (PUC) de Chile, in Santiago, has been working in the selection and evaluation of new BCA since the 2000’s and the French National Institute for Agronomical Research (INRA) complements the team with expertise on taxonomy, molecular biology and decision aid process development.
Specifically, this team aims to improve control of the key pests of avocado, grapevine and apple crops. Some focuses are developed regarding Cryptolaemus montrouzieri against mealybugs and new BCA development against Diaspidotus perniciosus and Saissetiaoleae.
The improvement of the Pest Monitoring System offered by Anasac-Xilema, is a pilot project that will be restricted to one system “enterprise- end-users network”. Our aim is to design decision-making support tools, aiming at reducing working-time dedicated to crop protection, while improving crop protection strategies, with a particular focus on the optimization of biocontrol product use.
The adoption of the PMS services and offer of high quality and efficient BCA on Avocado, grapevine and apple would lead to increase the confidence in and so the use of such crop protection strategies.
The use of Trichogrammatidae, a small parasitoïd wasp, as biological agent (BCA) in France and Europe is one of the main success of the biological control in the world. This BCA has been used for more than 25 years by maize producers. Since the start, few innovations were done in order to adapt the product to an easy mass-rearing production e.g. alternative host, diapause, and to adapt the product to the different key pests e.g. selection of species, dose, packaging.
The current social and political context, regarding the reduction of pesticides use in Europe, and the risk to introduce exotic BCA which could have non intentional effect, lead to the needs of better characterisation of the indigenous strain of natural BCA and to improve the quality and efficiency of these BCA. That why, in IAS-PUC-INRA team the main objectives are:
- To realise molecular characterisations of the different strains and species of Trichogrammatidae ;
- To improve quality production and efficiency of the different strains thanks population’s genetic hypothesis ;
- To improve quality and facilities of production of alternative host for Trichogrammatidae e.g. eggs production of Ephestia kuniella.
IAS has the major expertise in Thrichogrammatidae production since IAS was the first company which produced this BCA in Europe. The Pontificia Unversidad Catolica (PUC) de Chile, in Santiago, has been working in the selection and evaluation of new BCA since the 2000’s. The French National Institute for Agronomical Research (INRA) complements the team with expertises on taxonomy, molecular biology and concepts of population’s genetic.