When we originally developed the AMBER project, it was based around the following activities. Note that some of the details are likely to change as the project progresses, but the broad plan will remain the same.
- Case studies. At the start of the project, in conjunction with our steering group, we chose a set of biopesticides, pests and diseases, application equipment, commercial nurseries and crops, to use as case studies.
- Benchmarking. In the first year of the project, we monitored the performance of different biopesticides when used by our partner growers in their IPM programmes. We worked on 5 different crop types: (i) control of aphids on sweet pepper; (ii) thrips on pot chrysanthemum; (iii) powdery mildew control on cucumber; (iv) control of botrytis on cyclamen; (v) management of root rot diseases on choisya and dianthus. We recorded detailed information on biopesticide application (spray equipment, water volumes, timing, dose, spray coverage), product persistence, environmental conditions, effect on target pest / disease, incidental effects on other P&D, phytoxicity, and effects on non-target organisms (i.e. released or naturally-occurring biological control agents). This data was then analysed to identify areas with potential to optimise biopesticide performance.
- Biopesticide performance improvement. In this part of the project we are working to develop practices that growers can use to improve biopesticide performance. The benchmarking identified a series of areas to work on, including improved spray applications, quantifying persistence of activity, relating biopesticide effectiveness to environmental conditions, and getting better information on compatibility with pesticides and natural enemies. We are also undertaking targeted work on specific crops that has been requested by some industry sectors (primarily mushrooms, but others may arise during the project).
- Improved management system. In the second half of the project, we will test the effectiveness of new management practices on the commercial nurseries of our case-study grower partners.
- Extrapolation to other crops. If the results of the improved management system look promising, then towards the end of the project we will start to extrapolate the results to other crops. We expect that this will include investigation of the interactions of biopesticides in whole IPM systems (e.g. the compatibility of biopesticides with each other).
- Training and education. Knowledge exchange activities are being done through all stages of the programme and you can find details about them on this website.