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Austria: Gartenbau Wallner keeps pests at bay with a well-organized system

The Austrian company Gartenbau Wallner began to use biological crop protection in 2004, with varying results for a number of years. This situation changed in 2010, when Koppert Biological Systems beneficials were released at the company's premises and Gartenbau Wallner began to incorporate structuredplans into its working method.

Gartenbau Wallner is located in Graz in eastern Austria. The company has roses and gerbera as its main crop. Alongside these, the company also produces alstroemeria and hydrangea for use as cut flowers. They also grow tulips in winter and cultivate zantedeschia in summer. The company covers 3.3 hectares and has more than thirty permanent employees.
Strong market position
Gartenhau Wallner has a strong market position. It supplies the majority of its products to florists and retailers in Austria and in the north of Slovenia, whilst a smaller volume finds its way into the market via wholesale retailers. With five sales employees, the company is able to take care of its sales itself. This allows the company to identify developments in the market and pinpoint customers requirements. "Since we know our market and recent daily updates, we can offer an effective tailored service to our customers", says Stefan Wallner. This approach produces healthy selling prices and returns. 

Lack of an organised system 
The success of the business no doubt rests on the quality of its products, which Gartenbau Wallner works very hard to ensure. Its use of biological crop protection is inextricably linked to this high quality. In 2004, the company took its first steps along the path of integrated cultivation. This approach produced varying results for a number of years. Spider mites were for instance, controlled with varying rates of success, and whitefly was a persistent problem."We didn't have an organised system", explains Stefan. 

Progress every year
This situation changed in 2010. Once Stefan began to utilise the information on Koppert Biological Systems' website. "I saw progress every year, with 2013 being the first year in which we had no outbreaks of thrips, whitefly nor spider mites. The approach we took in 2013 was applied to the entire rose crop in 2014. This once again produced positive results. "In 2015, I decided, together with Marjolein van der Knaap from Koppert, to use this application on our gerbera. This application proved successful. Only twice have we needed to use a biological corrective agent against whitefly. Next year, I am planning to use a biological approach to combat aphids."

The company uses a range of Koppert products in the fight against spider mites. thrips and whitefly, including Spidex, Spidend, Limonica, and Swirski-Mite LD. This year, Wallner began to use Swirski-Mite (Amblyseius swirskii) instead of Thripex (Neoseiulus cucumeris) to combat thrips and whitefly. This approach significantly reduced the number of thrips. It was also much easier to keep whitefly under control.

Alongside this, Gartenbau Wallner uses Miglyphus against leaf miners and releases a predatory beetle which completely devours hotspots of whitefly.

Improved product quality
Gartenbau Wallner's approach is based on introducing beneficials in higher than advised quantities. Stefan Wallner explains: "I don't want to leave anything to chance. I think it's better to use too many beneficials than too few - if I have to resort to chemical products, the quality of my products will inevitably suffer."

He states that the costs of biological crop protection are greater than the savings achieved from not using chemical products. "The necessary return level is achieved from the much improved quality of the products, which is attainable thanks to biological crop protection It's also down to the extra production - depending on the crop, cultivar, and the time of the year, this amounts to minimum of 10% to 30%."

"Easier cultivation"

The improvement operational safety has yet another advantage: "I used to have to reject or cancel orders. However, thanks to biological crop protection, this is no longer the case. A biological approach makes for easier cultivation. My employees are also more motivated." Stefan Wallner and Marjolein van der Knaap now keep to a set working method. Each year, they draft a plan of action for the crops and the departments, which saves the Austrian company a great deal of time in terms of organization. The plan of action details the standard introductions which, as previously mentioned, are greater than advised. Stefan says, "If the situation demands it, I deviate from the plan and place extra orders. This solves the problem."

Factor in the success
Stefan Wallner used to work for a Dutch company and completed a traineeship at an agricultural consultants office in the Netherlands. This is where he learnt to speak Dutch so well. "That's an advantage", he explains. "The ornamentals sector here in Austria is small, which means there is little field-specific knowledge available. However, Marjolein regularly pays visits to our company. As there is no language barrier, I can immediately access Koppert's valuable knowledge. I am certain this knowledge pays a role in our success with biology."

For more information:
Koppert Biological Systems
[email protected]

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