Biopesticides – what you need to know

By Dejex

Confused by biopesticides?  As a leader in the application of biopesticides Dejex receives some commonly asked questions. For growers thinking of introducing biopesticides into their integrated pest management (IPM) programmes we have tried to answer a few below:

What are biopesticides?

Most simply biopesticides are products used to control pests and diseases in crops.  The products are made from natural substances rather than using synthetic chemistry, which has been the conventional horticultural and agricultural method for the past 60 years.

Are biopesticides organic?

Not necessarily, but quite a number of biopesticides are organic, approved by the European body Ecocert and some by Organic Farmers & Growers (OF&G).  However, many are not and some of the production methods for the natural active ingredients mean they are not suitable for vegetarians and vegans.  It is worth checking with your agronomist.

Is there a difference between biopesticides and biostimulants?

Yes, a big difference; to be a biopesticide products in the UK must be approved by the Chemicals Regulation Division (CRD) to be used on specific crops to control specific pest and diseases.  This means they will be given an official approval number know as a ‘MAPP’ number.  Biostimulants will be products made from natural substances claimed to boost natural processes in plants to improve resistance to pests and diseases.  It is illegal for a biostimulant to be sold claiming specific activity against a pest and disease, it must be registered with CRD to do so.  That said some biostimulants can be extremely useful as part of IPM programmes.

How do you store and prepare biopesticides?

As with conventional chemical options the formulation of biopesticides does differ, but most require more careful handling and some need refrigeration.  When selecting certain biopesticides check your agrochemical supplier has a cool chain established with the manufacturer to ensure biopesticides are delivered in the best possible condition.  Dejex has a monitored temperature-controlled BASIS registered store for holding biopesticides.   The formulation of some products also means more careful mixing is required to avoid separation; bacillus thuringiensis (BT) based products such as Agree and Lepinox are also severely affect by the use of hard water, so make sure to use a water conditioner such as Go-pH with them.

How do you apply biopesticides?

Most products are designed to be used with conventional application equipment at normal water volume levels, so often no new specialist application equipment is required.  More consideration does have to be given to the timing of application though than with conventional chemistry.  The efficacy of quite a lot of biopesticide actives can be altered by humidity and temperature, also a greater number are preventative controls rather than curative so need to be considered as part of an IPM programme.  Some products are now giving as good if not better control and results than conventional chemistry; the biofungicide Prestop ,for example, is broad spectrum, has a wide window of application, a large number of on label and off label approvals and can outperform some chemical actives.  Make sure your agronomist has some knowledge of integrating biopesticides into a programme or are willing to do the research.

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