Netherlands: NWO-TTW grant for biological control research of thrips pests in ornamental crops

Pesticides often have negative environmental side effects, and there is therefore an increasing demand for alternative, environmental-friendly methods such as biological control. A project led by IBED researcher Arne Janssen has been granted funding from the Open Technology Programme of NWO Applied and Engineering Science to develop an environmental-friendly biological control method for upcoming pests in greenhouse ornamentals.

Pest control in greenhouse ornamentals still depends to a large extent on chemical pesticides, with associated problems of environmental pollution and health risks for the growers. The use of illegal pesticides still occurs in this sector. Biological control of pests has proven to be a sustainable solution and is successfully applied in many crops.

Biological alternative for chemical pesticides
Previous research within IBED had contributed to increased use of biological control in greenhouse vegetable crops, but the biological control in greenhouse ornamental crops has lagged behind because of low damage tolerance. A new thrip pest, Echinothrips americanus, is upcoming in ornamentals and other greenhouse crops. Because biological control agents of this pest in ornamentals are not available yet, this will force growers to use even more chemical pesticides, which will further jeopardize the use of biocontrol agents against other pests.

Arne Janssen, researcher in the IBED research department Evolutionary and Population Biology, explains: 'Based on our previous experience with biological control of western flower thrips in ornamentals, the research project funded by NWO Applied and Engineering Science (TTW) aims at developing environmental-friendly biological control methods for this upcoming pest species in greenhouse ornamentals.'

Source: University of Amsterdam

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