‘Integrated Pest Management may take a mind shift’

Says: Samuel Stüssi, department manager and consultant at Andermatt Biocontrol, Switzerland ‘In traditional, synthetic pest management, farmers and product specialists are used to thinking in efficacy rates of 95% or more. In biological products, however, efficacies of around 50% are not uncommon’,

Integrated pest management

Andermatt’s Samuel Stüssi says. ‘So, when growers or producers switch from synthetic to biological, it often takes a mind shift to get a realistic perspective on pest management. The gap may be filled with improved management.’

Improve your scouting

It is very well possible to make biological control just as effective as synthetic control, Stüssi stresses. ‘One of the ways to fill the gap in efficacy of the different products is to improve the scouting of potential problems. If you find, for example, spider mites in tomatoes, it’s all a matter of acting early enough. Larger growers are maybe used to act relatively late, and rely on larger quantities of control agents. These quantities may become too expensive when you work with biological products. Therefore, you need to act sooner, so smaller quantities can still do the job. Find the hot spots before they become big’, Stüssi says.

Pull from consumers

Stüssi recognises a growing market for organic products in his home country, Switzerland. ‘It is clear that also the larger companies are jumping in the market for biological products. Distributors of vegetables and other products don’t accept too many residues of synthetic products anymore, so there is a clear pull of consumers towards organic production. But especially the larger companies that want to act on that market need to shift their focus, when it comes to working the organic way.’

Subsidised consultancy

Stüssi looks somewhat envious to his colleagues in the European Union, when it comes to field consultancy in Integrated Pest Management. ‘In for example Germany, consultancy for growers who switch to organic production is partly subsidised by the European Union. In Switzerland, this essential consultancy has to be paid entirely by the growers themselves.’

Open field more difficult

‘In greenhouses, Integrated Pest Management has become relatively easy’, Stüssi says. ‘The number of pest is limited and the options for control are in place. The last couple of years, however, there is for example a number of bugs that increase with rising temperatures and with the elongation of production seasons. For some of these bugs there is no adequate biological control available yet.’

In open field crops, the difficulties are more apparent. ‘Last year, for example, we had a very wet season in potatoes, with problems due to fungi and oomycetes that were hard to control with biological products. Some of the farmers had a tough year because of that. But due to the better prices and the growing market for organic products, most farmers are able to overcome these occasional poor years.’


Nora de Rijk
Nora de Rijk
Communication and dissemination BIOCOMES project