Integrated Pest Management
Economically and environmentally sustainable crop protection
How can farmers avoid damaging the environment when growing vegetables and salads to the high standards expected by consumers? Professor Rosemary Collier and Dr David Chandler have researched the tools and methods needed to deliver Integrated Pest Management (IPM). Their work has combined new insecticides with non-chemical forms of pest control. As a result, growers have been able to make their operations both more economical and more environmentally friendly.
Every year, the UK produces over £1.4 billion worth of vegetables, salads and other types of fresh produce. Pest damage not only reduces farming yields, but also affects crop quality. Traditional methods of pest control rely heavily on chemical pesticides, which, when overused, damage the environment. Equally, many pests have become resistant to the most common compounds. Research into IPM has needed to arm growers with a broad range of chemical and non-chemical tools to control pests in a more sustainable, environmentally-sensitive way. Such approaches have to apply to a wide variety of plant species, grown in both indoor and outside cultivation.
Professor Collier and Dr Chandler researched a wide range of pests, their lifecycles and the effectiveness of different control methods:
Evaluating the ability of new chemicals to control emerging pests
Host plant resistance
Companion planting and other forms of cultural control
As a result of their research, they created multiple tactics for optimising pest and disease control. These include monitoring and forecasting systems, improving the performance of biopesticides, and the development of new plant protection products.
Professor Collier’s and Dr Chandler’s work has impacted on growers, agronomists, crop protection and seed companies. Research on tools and approaches to support Integrated Pest Management (IPM) systems and a significant programme of knowledge exchange on best practice has improved growers’ understanding and application of a range of approaches, including the use of biopesticides, and shaped the advice provide by biopesticide companies, thereby improving control of pests and diseases.
Evaluation of new products has led to new chemical and biopesticide plant protection products being available to growers, such as FLiPPER for aphid control on field vegetable crops, 'Teppeki' for control of willow-carrot aphid on carrots and emergency authorisation of Benevia 10OD, against diamondback moth on brassica crops. Cultural control methods have been recommended for the production of radishes and celery, enabling more efficient use of land and saving millions of pounds in losses.
The AHDB Pest Bulletin, led by Rosemary Collier and hosted by Syngenta, provides weekly updates to growers warning them about a wide range of insect threats. Some of these forecasts have since been adapted into bespoke software to assist with the management of specific pests. Professor Collier’s and Dr Chandler’s research has helped improve crop production, resulting in better quality crops, increased profits for growers and reduced waste. As a result of their research, the food we eat can be grown in more sustainable ways, with benefits both for people and the environment.