The fight against the red spider mite in the tomato industry is made possible thanks to useful insects launched by drones on a few hundred hectares in Emilia Romagna, between the provinces of Piacenza, Reggio Emilia and Ravenna. The project is carried out by Bioplanet, together with an Italian company leader in the drones sector, with whom it has developed a distributor for mites and useful insects after an intensive work of planning and testing.
Against the red spider mite (Tetranychus urticae), the useful insects deployed are two species of phytoseiidae, Phytoseiulus persimilis and Amblyseius andersoni.
"In the north of the Emilia Romagna region - explained Stefano Foschi of Bioplanet - the red spider mite is a real problem in the cultivation of industrial tomatoes, especially in specific years. 2018 was terrible, while in 2019 the stress was lower. By using drones, it is possible to intervene more quickly and effectively. The aim of the project is to improve the technique and assess its sustainability.
Phytoseiulus persimilis is a specific phytoseiid, while Amblyseius andersoni is a more generic one. The distribution of both contributes to limiting the spread of the red spider mite. "We have already used drones in 2019 - added Foschi - and this year we are increasing the surface area. The main objective of the technique is to distribute them in targeted areas, on the borders of fields where the spider is more present. The mites are launched in free fall together with a propagating agent."
Thanks to the aerial distribution, the operation is very fast. It takes a few minutes for one hectare. The industrial tomato is grown in rather large farms and past experience proves that this technique is convenient on blocks of at least 10-20 hectares.