Biocontrols Aren’t Scary [Opinion]

Biocontrols Aren’t Scary [Opinion]

Laura DrotleffCrafting a softer pest management program is likely in everyone’s future — if it’s not here already, especially due to increasing regulation and growing consumer concern over pesticide use. An increasing number of growers are finding that a mix of biocontrol products and conventional products helps fill the bill.

Late last year, Meister Media Worldwide conducted an agricultural survey on the use of biocontrols to find out how broadly they’re incorporated into production of a wide range of crops, from ornamentals to fruit, vegetables and nuts, all the way to cotton and row crops. The results were eye-opening — nearly two-thirds of all agricultural producers who responded said they currently use biocontrols.

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Among the 853 respondents, 208 were professionals in the ornamentals market, and of those, 75 percent were growers, 14 percent were university and Extension personnel, 5 percent were crop input suppliers, 3 percent were ag consultants and 3 percent were retailers.

In our market, biocontrols are a little more widely adopted than in other areas of agriculture, with 81 percent of ornamental growers who responded saying they do currently use biocontrols, and 85 percent saying they’ll definitely be using biocontrols in 2015.

Among those who currently use biocontrols, 92 percent said the results they’ve seen have been as expected or better.

It’s great to see that a high percentage of our industry is on the leading edge of using or at least experimenting with biocontrols, and that growers are seeing positive results. But even more interesting to us, as disseminators of information, is how many growers are not currently using biocontrols, and the reasons why.

For some growers, the unknown territory of growing with biocontrols may lead to feelings of fear and intimidation, yet with an underlying curiosity and knowledge that they need to check out this growing area of pest and disease control.

The primary reason ornamental growers gave in the survey for not using biocontrols is that they don’t know enough about them to use them effectively (65 percent). But some growers also weren’t convinced that biocontrols are viable products. An equal percentage of growers (12 percent) either didn’t believe biocontols to be effective or were of the opinion that traditional crop protection products work better than biocontrols.

Wherever you fall on the spectrum — believer, disbeliever, novice, expert or somewhere in between — we at Meister Media Worldwide have partnered with the Biopesticide Industry Alliance (BPIA) to make biocontrols knowledge more comprehensive for all who use or have interest in using them.

At a new event — the Biocontrols 2015 Conference & Tradeshow — to be held March 3-5, 2015 in Fresno, Calif., growers, crop protection experts, practitioners and suppliers will come together to share new information about biopesticides in both conventional and organic production.

At the event, you’ll have the opportunity to:

    • Hear hands-on, real-world case studies from growers and advisers who are in the thick of biocontrols adoption
    • Get trusted advice from technical experts and major suppliers
    • Understand the technologies that are here now and coming soon
    • Get rare insights into the trends in research, business and consumer markets that are mainstreaming biocontrols across a wide range of crops
    •  Earn PCA Continuing Education hours (approval pending)

To learn more, and to register, visit the Biocontrols 2015 Conference & Trade Show website.