Two new products from Koppert will make Integrated Pest Management (IPM) programmes for strawberries grown under polythene tunnels more robust. The products are a new release license for Swirski Mite®, and the Natutec Drive® application system. In particular these developments centre around thrips control, especially for Western Flower thrips (Frankliniella occidentalis), but also provide good activity against whiteflies and spider mites.
The new products will be available from the start of the 2021 season.
New release license for Swirski Mite®
A key development is a new release license for Swirski Mite®, issued by DEFRA in November 2020. Until now, Swirski Mite® (which contains the predatory mite Amblyseius swirskii) has only been licensed in England for use in glasshouses, not polythene tunnels. The new license permits the release of Swirski Mite® in England, in both edible and ornamental crops grown under polythene structures.
Swirski Mite® was first launched in the UK for various glasshouse crops in 2007. Since then, its use has increased significantly, underlining its strong performance as a predatory mite.
“We have been working with DEFRA and a number of commercial strawberry growers, over the past few years, to secure the data to support the revised Swirski license application,” comments Karen Girard, Koppert UK’s Registration Manager. “We would like to thank growers R&V Emery of Romsey; B. R. Brooks & Son of Faversham; and New Forest Fruit Company at Brokenhurst, for hosting our trials, and to express our gratitude to Defra for enabling us to offer this important biocontrol agent more widely.”
Sandy Booth, owner and Managing Director of the New Forest Fruit Company adds: “I was happy to support the Koppert Swirski Mite® trials and I’m delighted to hear that the Swirski licence extension has been approved. This means we will have another biological control product in our armoury, which will help us to reduce pesticide applications, and maintain our reputation of supplying first-class fruit to our customers.”
In Scotland and the Republic of Ireland, A. swirskii has always been permitted for use under glass and polythene. For Wales, Northern Ireland and the Channel Islands, the use remains restricted to glasshouses.
“This news is really important for strawberry growers who will benefit from the new Swirski license as soon as the 2021 season gets underway,” explains Jasper Hubert, Senior Strawberry Consultant for Koppert UK. “Finally, tunnel-grown crops can be treated with a predatory mite that delivers higher levels of activity against various thrips species which pose a risk to UK tunnel crops every year. It can also provide a good defense against whitefly, a pest which has been increasing in tunnel strawberry crops in recent years.”
New application technology
The second new product is Koppert’s patented Natutec Drive® applicator which is driven between tabletops in the strawberry production tunnel. The system contains a revolving drum which dispenses the predators and carrier material into a hopper, and then via delivery tubes to the crop canopy. The application process is controlled from a touchscreen inside the tractor cab, by simply selecting the product name and the rate of application required.
David Foster, General Manager for Koppert UK, comments: “Not only do we have a new approval for Swirski Mite®, but we have also developed the Natutec Drive®, which can be used to apply the product in strawberry tunnels, with a high degree of efficiency and accuracy.
“This is a first-class piece of machinery, which exemplifies our superiority in the field of biocontrol-related innovations. As well as Swirski Mite®, the Natutec Drive® can be used to apply a number of other Koppert products and we are conducting product development studies to further increase the list of compatible products in the near future.”