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Biobest' Flying Doctors officially launched at Fruit Logistica

Biobest proudly presented their newest sustainable crop protection innovation at this year's Fruit Logistica in Berlin. The new "Flying Doctors" concept is combining pollination with crop protection by the use of bumblebees that can transport microbials to the plants to control crop diseases.

Biobest got a lot of positive reactions from the industry after announcing that they were introducing the new Flying Doctors concept at Fruit Logistica. According to Bert Synaeve, group marketing manager at Biobest, a lot of people walked into their booth at the leading fair of the fresh produce industry. "Since the use of bumblebees for crop protection has been a much discussed concept, people walk in to our booth to see our new approach of the idea," Synaeve said. "The idea is not completely new, but in the past several concepts didn't work out well, due to the fact that either the bumblebees brought to much of agent into their hive, or they didn't brought enough agent to the crop."

Fonny Theunis (Biobest Netherlands), Juan Luis Pérez Calvo (Biobest Spain) and Bert Synaeve (Group marketing manager) with the officially launched Flying Doctors.

Biobest worked several years to reinvent the system. "The key to the success of our patented concept is the special entrance and outlet that include a dispenser unit", Synaeve said. "Basically the hive is a standard Biobest bumblebee-box, but it includes an extra walk-through area that contains a dispenser with a biological pesticide. The smart design of the entrance makes it  impossible  for the bumblebees to take the pesticide into the hive."

The first bio pesticide that is available for the Flying Doctors concept is Verdera B4. "This well known bio pesticide is specially formulated for the Flying Doctors", said Synaeve. "We added a substance to the agent, so it will stick to the legs of the bumblebees. From now, strawberry growers are able to save a lot of labor thanks to our Flying Doctors system. In these crops, growers naturally use bumblebees for pollination, but thanks to Flying Doctors with Verdera B4 they can also obtain a healthy strong crop beacuse at the same time the pollination takes place, the bumblebees bring the agent against Botrytus pre-emptively  into the flower. There is absolutely no better way to bring a biological pesticide into a crop. It saves a lot of time, and their is a considerable reduction of residue that remains on the plants of fruits."

Good results have already been obtained under test conditions at the Biobest Green Lab, as well as in commercial crops. “Flying Doctors” brings together all the benefits of bumblebees, such as effective pollination even early in the season and under adverse weather conditions, with crop protection that fits current IPM programmes. It can be used in fruit or vegetable crops, and although the focus is currently on flower-associated diseases such as grey mould and pests like flower thrips, Biobest’s R&D team is hard at work exploring the potential of this new technology to combat foliar diseases and pests too.

According to Bert Synaeve, the Flying Doctors concept opens new doorways for growers that aren't using bumblebees for the pollination of their crop. "Instead of putting a dispenser with biological pesticide inside the hive, it is also possible to put a dispenser with pollen inside the Flying Doctors hive. That makes it also very interesting for growers of kiwi, cherries  and apples to use bumblebees for pollination."

For more information:
Biobest N.V.
Ilse Velden 18
2260 Westerlo - Belgium
T +32 14 25 79 80
F +32 14 25 79 82

Publication date: 2/12/2013
Author: Boy de Nijs



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