The Future Of Pest Control Is Traditional Chemistry, Biocontrols, Structures And More

Tom Costamagna
Tom Costamagna, Director of Plant Quality, Mid-American Growers

Tom Costamagna is a progressive proponent of new crop protection techniques at the grower level, and he has the experience to back it up. Costamagna started his career in biologicals research at the University of California-Davis prior to joining Mid-American Growers as director of plant quality. We asked for his take on the future of greenhouse crop protection.

Q: How different will greenhouse crop protection look to the grower in the next 30 years?
Costamagna: There has been a lack of new chemistries coming to the market in recent years and I believe this trend will continue. Greenhouse growers will need to rely on science for products, techniques, and breakthroughs in chemistry, genetics, plant pathology and entomology. The tools academia has today to gain insight into these respective areas are remarkable and as we begin to understand things on a molecular even more, this will open opportunities to address the problems that impact us. There is a world of fungi, bacteria, metabolites and enzymes out there. I believe there is huge opportunity in understanding these things.

Q: Does this mean we’re going to see less of the traditional products growers are accustomed to using?
Costamagna: If the crop protection products we are using today are going to be more heavily regulated, lose registration or not be as effective as they once were, we will have to change. Will the chemistries of today be here tomorrow? This is a multibillion dollar question the chemical companies would like to know the answer to. A number of materials have stood the test of time and I am pretty confident there are a number being used today that will be around in the future.

Breakthroughs in science will determine how a paradigm shift in crop protection unfolds, but I do know that whether it is 10, 20 or 30 years from now, this industry will be spraying materials. What they are, how they are composed and how they will be delivered is what will be different.

Q: How much of a convergence of traditional chemistry and biological control will we see?
Costamagna: I believe to a certain degree we will always have traditional chemistry. These products are an immediate response to problems and have historically been an economical choice.
I think the future strategy of crop protection will be preventative rather than reactive. And I believe it will be heavily dependent on biological control agents, whether they are beneficial insects, mites or biopesticides.

The fact that these biocontrol agents aren’t being used more today has occurred for a number of reasons: cost and economics, knowledge and understanding of the materials and the incorrect use of the products causing people not to be successful. And I think we’re still lacking the number of choices we need for pest complexes (diseases, insects and mites).
Greater use of these products and year-round demand by agriculture will help with economics. In turn, this will aid in the knowledge and understanding due to broader use and more dollars being spent.

Q: What developments will we see in crop protection techniques beyond new products?
Costamagna: I believe the largest improvement that can be made is in the delivery of crop protection products to maximize efficacy and minimize environmental impact. For example, Metrolina is using electrostatic sprayers (ESS) on their crane booms. These sprayers add a small charge to the particles being applied. The charge attracts them to the plant and ensures they are delivered to the intended target. They also reduce the cost substantially, since volumes applied are less than half of a conventional wet spray with greater control of the intended organism. Concepts like ESS will maximize the efficacy of a crop protection product whether it is a traditional synthetic chemistry or biopesticide.

I believe another area that will help with crop protection in the future is the greenhouse structure itself. The trend for the past decade or so has been taking advantage of the best of both worlds inside and out with the MX style of greenhouses. The advantages of temperature, light and ventilation have been the driving force behind this style of structure but anyone who has grown in them knows you are at the mercy of the pest pressure from the natural surrounding environment.
New concepts in greenhouse structures will maximize light, conserve energy and water and reduce the influx of insect pests and diseases while creating an ideal atmosphere for plants to grow. Kubo Greenhouse Projects is doing some really interesting things with its Ultra Clima Greenhouse. Houweling’s Greenhouse Co. in Camarillo, Calif., was the first to build this is type of greenhouse in the United States.

Q: These new structures and sprayers are exciting developments, but what about smaller growers who may not have the resources to make those investments? What’s the future for them?
Costamagna: Currently small, mid-size and larger growers are using the same crop protection products. The volumes and price points are different, but I believe this will remain true for the future.
As to whether they will all be able to use the same delivery systems, it’s true the cost of equipment and future greenhouse technologies in regard to structures could make some concepts potentially prohibitive for the smaller growers. Economics are the driving force. But I have seen a number of small to mid-size growers improvise and engineer what the larger ones are doing with success.

Q: Products like neonicotinoids are in the news. Are we going to see increasing regulations regarding conventional pest control in the coming years?
Costamagna: Environmental stewardship comes to mind here. Unfortunately, one rotten apple — or one person misusing a product — can spoil the bunch. There is no question that regulation is getting stricter and more difficult when it comes to the chemistries we use in agriculture. I believe today we have a much greater understanding of these chemistries in regard to persistence in the environment and negative effect on human health. Regulation is helpful when it is not misused or abused.
Will the chemistries of old be controlled under a “special use need” as it is with an older product like methyl bromide where there is still no alternative that works as well? Time will tell. Hopefully any new regulation takes into consideration all aspects before making a decision on the tools we use today.

Topics: ,

Leave a Reply

2 comments on “The Future Of Pest Control Is Traditional Chemistry, Biocontrols, Structures And More

  1. Very Informative. It seems like it is ineveitable that eventually restrictions and laws regarding insecticide use will be increased…..Especially since as you sad a few bad apples can ruin it for the lot.

More From Crop Inputs...
Cannabis Crop Protection

July 28, 2016

Solving The Cannabis Crop Protection Problem

A largely unregulated sector of the industry, state departments of agriculture, biocontrols companies, and other industry pros are dedicated to helping growers make the right pesticide decisions for their operations.

Read More
Aphids On Older Leaves

July 25, 2016

How You Can Stop Aphids By Understanding Their Interactions With Plants

Knowing which aphids target which crops and how aphids colonize and move on plants goes a long way toward setting up an effective management plan.

Read More
Roots with plant media background XL-W

July 2, 2016

University Of Florida Offering Online Nutrient Management Course In July

Topics include common nutrient problems, essential nutrients, fertilizer types, how to interpret a fertilizer label, managing total nutrient level, pH, and EC, onsite testing, and growing media.

Read More
Latest Stories
Cannabis Crop Protection

July 28, 2016

Solving The Cannabis Crop Protection Problem

A largely unregulated sector of the industry, state departments of agriculture, biocontrols companies, and other industry pros are dedicated to helping growers make the right pesticide decisions for their operations.

Read More
Aphids On Older Leaves

July 25, 2016

How You Can Stop Aphids By Understanding Their Interact…

Knowing which aphids target which crops and how aphids colonize and move on plants goes a long way toward setting up an effective management plan.

Read More
BASF Orkestra Intrinsic

June 21, 2016

New Mode Of Action From BASF Offers Deeper Disease Cont…

When it comes to disease control, you need all the help you can get. BASF recently hosted growers, Extension personnel, and trade media to present its newest fungicide with two active ingredients, offering dual modes of action.

Read More
Nematodes-feature

June 4, 2016

New Biocontrols Provide Effective Pest Control In Green…

Biological chemistry manufacturers have introduced several new products recently that offer a range of insect and disease management options. Here’s a look at some of them.

Read More
Whitefly

June 2, 2016

Breaking News: Florida Growers Reporting Major Whitefly…

Reports have come from the Florida Keys to Palm Beach County that whitefly populations in landscapes are reaching unprecedented levels and are not responding to pesticide applications. Biotype-Q has been found in four different communities. University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Science researchers are working with USDA-APHIS, USDA-ARS, the Florida Department of Agriculture, and growers and landscape professionals to manage the developing problem.

Read More
Triathlon BA container shot

May 24, 2016

OHP’s Triathlon Biofungicide Now Listed By The Organic …

Triathlon BA is a broad-spectrum preventative biofungicide that provides control of many foliar and soilborne diseases in ornamentals and herbs.

Read More
Two-spotted spider mites, adults and eggs

May 11, 2016

SePRO Launches Summer Insecticide Management Program Fo…

The program is designed to help growers use SePRO’s insect management tools to prevent plant damage from a variety of pests.

Read More
Small Aphid Colony on Calibrachoa

May 2, 2016

How To Stop Aphids In The Greenhouse

When untreated, aphids damage ornamental crops and act as vectors for disease. Integrated Pest Management combined with vigilant scouting can help you stay ahead of the problem.

Read More
Cicada (Greg Hoover, Penn State)

April 26, 2016

Cicadas Set To Emerge In Several Eastern States This Sp…

While there’s no immediate cause for alarm, experts say the cicada’s egg-laying process can damage woody ornamentals and make them vulnerable to diseases.

Read More
Parisitic Wasp Aphidius colemani

April 25, 2016

Plant Growth Regulator Use Can Affect Biological Pest C…

The use of plant growth regulators may negatively influence the outcome of biological control programs, according to researchers at North Carolina State University.

Read More
Beneficial Insectary Orius insidiosus

April 22, 2016

Beneficial Insectary Increasing Production Of Three Bio…

The company is now producing Orius insidiosus, Dalotia coriaria, and Dicyphus hesperus at its California facility, reducing the transit time of perishable biocontrols between producer and grower.

Read More

April 21, 2016

Michigan State University Offers Tips On Greenhouse Soi…

Improper pH and higher than adequate nutrient levels are among the many reasons for regular soil testing.

Read More
Parasitized aphid mummies, ladybird beetle larvae

April 18, 2016

4 Things You Need To Know About Implementing Biological…

Biocontrols are useful alternatives to traditional pesticides that provide effective pest control in the greenhouse. Here are four ways to get started successfully.

Read More
John Wendorf Bayer Ornamentals

April 14, 2016

Bayer’s New Ornamentals Business Manager Aims To Help G…

John Wendorf, who previously managed BFG Supply’s grower division, says when Bayer launches into the ornamentals market this November, growers will have access to a wealth of resources, including a dedicated team focused on ornamentals growers.

Read More
Emerald Ash Borer

March 22, 2016

Canada Implements New Voluntary Biosecurity Standard Fo…

The voluntary standard is designed to protect the greenhouse, nursery, and floriculture industries from invasive plant pests.

Read More

March 22, 2016

EPA Approves Syngenta’s Mainspring GNL Insecticide For …

Featuring the active ingredient cyantraniliprole, Mainspring GNL provides broad-spectrum control of key pests, such as thrips, whiteflies, aphids, caterpillars, leafminers, and leaf-feeding beetles.

Read More
Black Root Rot on Vinca

March 15, 2016

How To Identify Different Root Rots In The Greenhouse

Root rots can cause similar symptoms on hosts. Here are some tips for scouting in your greenhouse.

Read More
One symptom of Botrytis blight is gray, fuzzy sporulation on foliage and flowers, similar to that shown on the flower of this hibiscus

March 11, 2016

Manage Botrytis With These Cultural And Fungicide Contr…

High relative humidity and low temperatures in the greenhouse open the way for Botrytis to develop on plants. A mix of cultural and fungicide control options will help you manage this common disease effectively.

Read More
[gravityform id="35" title="false" description="false"]