A request from a Canadian strawberry grower is behind the development of a new automatic dispenser for beneficial insects, recently introduced to the general public. The Entomatic, seen on display at Strawberry Day and IPM trade show, was developed by Biobest and HortiWorld and is available exclusively from Biobest.
One of the important points when releasing beneficial insects in the greenhouse is that they can get to work quickly. Now, it sometimes happened that the insects were so startled by their introduction into the greenhouse that they had to recover for a while, for example, from a 'hard landing' on the crop.
Hanne Steel of Biobest and Rembrandt van Meegen (Hortiworld) with the Entomatic™ at the IPM tradeshow
During the development of the Entomatic, a very deliberate choice was made for a system that guarantees a soft landing for mites, pupae, eggs, and larvae. "You should think of it as a parachute landing," Rembrandt van Meegen of producer HortiWorld explains pictorially.
By slowing down the airflow, more mites land on the leaves. That is where they are needed and not on the ground. "Different products can be carried in the reservoir. With premixing, a stirring system ensures a continuous and homogeneous supply to the distribution points."
This component slows the airflow
"Entomatic is designed and developed to achieve a very even, precise, and homogeneous distribution of mite products," explains Hanne Steel, Biobest product portfolio manager Beneficials. "Manual distribution of beneficial insects is labor-intensive and therefore time-consuming and expensive. To optimize biological control strategies and their effectiveness, it is important that beneficial insects are evenly distributed over the crop."
The automatic dispenser uses a modular system. At the Dutch grower's premises, the Entomatic rides on tube rails, but it is also possible to have the Entomatic drive behind the tractor or other type of transport vehicle. "The machine is a simple modular system and can be adapted to almost all greenhouse crops and growing systems such as soft fruit, leafy crops, and ornamentals," says Rembrandt. "The configuration is easy, and the use is also intuitive. That's what we designed the system for."
Besides the Dutch strawberry grower, a Dutch gerbera grower is also working with the Entomatic. It is possible to have rods with distribution points pass under the crop gutters, as in strawberries, as well as along the top, in the case of standing gutters. The machine can have between two and 16 dispensing points per unit. Depending on the number of distribution points and the length of the rows, it has a dosing capacity of up to 1.5 ha per hour. In addition to the first Dutch users, the Canadian grower, who approached Hortiworld in 2020 with a request for an automatic dispenser, will also start using the Entomatic this spring.
Hortiworld, a company owned by Rembrandt and Peter Oosterink, is also known for its Bio Bull, crop shredding machines widely used during crop rotation.
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Rembrandt van Meegen