Doing the right things in order to build a solid reputation, even if the buyers don't follow the same path yet: that is the philosophy on which Plántulas de Tetela bases its investment in biological crop protection. The Mexican producer of propagation materials for the ornamentals sector has reduced its use of chemicals by 80%.
Having developed a keen interest in biological crop protection, Plántulas de Tetela started using biological control for sciarid fly in 2003, as chemicals proved inefficient in combating the larvae of this pest.
‘Sciarid fly has always been a stubborn pest for us,’ explains Federico Martínez Martínez. ‘Many of our products have a long production time. This extended period gives algae the chance to develop in the trays and create the perfect environment for the sciarid fly to settle and develop.’
‘We had few success stories’
Plántulas de Tetela started using the parasitic nematode Steinernema feltiae, which was supplied by an American company. But this supplier didn't provide any advice; technical assistance was lacking, and the results of the pest control did not live up to their expectations. ‘We have few success stories and a lot of failures. We applied the product believing that it was alive, although it turned out that this often wasn't the case. We had no understanding of the supply chain through which the product was delivered to us, and we didn't know that we could check the quality of the product under a microscope either.’
In 2010, the company found Koppert and continued applying Steinernema feltiae, but this time it was delivered by Koppert as the product Entonem, which was of exceptional quality. And, this time, success was on the cards for Plántulas de Tetela. ‘We now continue to keep the sciarid fly under control with Entonem and Capsanem. This is both thanks to the quality of the product and the excellent assistance we have received from Koppert Mexico. We have also started applying other Koppert products and often use Swirski-Mite against thrips and sometimes release Spical and Spidex to control spider mites. And, of course, we also use traps and sticky traps to monitor the situation.’
A matter of prestige
Since working together with Koppert, Plántulas de Tetela has been able to reduce its use of chemicals by 80%. ‘We are incredibly happy about this reduction,’ says Federico Martínez Martínez. ‘This is very important to us, as we don't want to expose our employees to any risks and don't want to pollute the environment. Financial savings and lower costs are not my priority and are, in my opinion, not the objective of the integrated pest management programme (IPM). Instead, my priority and goal are the health of our people and the environment. We firmly believe that is something that you need to make an effort to achieve. And, to us, that is a matter of prestige.’
Assistance is essential
Since finding Koppert, the relationship between the two companies has only continued to grow. ‘I'm really happy with our collaboration,’ says Federico Martínez Martínez. ‘We initially received a lot of support from Rosario Preciado, who worked at Koppert Mexico for many years. We now work closely with consultant Victor Landín, and I'm incredibly thankful for the support he gives us.’
Biological crop protection is of the utmost importance for the director and owner of Plántulas de Tetela. ‘That is why the assistance that we receive from Koppert is essential to us. Although we are able to combat most pests effectively, it is comforting to know that Koppert’s knowledge and many products are available if a situation arises that calls for them.’
A vital aspect
Federico Martínez Martínez hopes to make the market more aware of the advantages of biological crop protection together with Koppert. ‘There are many growers who know too little about it and are therefore reluctant to invest in natural solutions. Even the government still needs to catch up, despite the fact that it should be promoting best practices in agriculture and horticulture.’
It is clear that biological crop protection forms a vital aspect for the philosophy and mission of Plántulas de Tetela and Federico Martínez Martínez.
Plántulas de Tetela
Plántulas de Tetela is a family-owned business in Mexico that was founded in 1996 by Federico Martínez Martínez who continues to head up the company today. The company is specialized in the production of propagation materials for Mexican ornamentals growers and florists. In total, the company grows 120 species in 800 varieties, including begonias, geraniums, violets, potted chrysanthemums and potted gerberas, lisianthus, primulas, cyclamen, zinnias, and verbena. The company also cultivates 25 species of fully propagated plants in 50 varieties. The company spans 2.6 hectares and is located in Tetela del Monte near to Cuernavaca, south of the capital Mexico City.
‘We have been working on making our production processes safer for both the environment and our employees for many years,’ explains Federico Martínez Martínez. ‘At the same time, the quality of the product and the reliability of supply are also important in our approach. We also put a great deal of energy into after-sales assistance, as we want our buyers to cultivate our products without any hassle. We are always at the ready to help them every step of the way.’