Learn About Biological Controls In The Greenhouse In A New Online Course

Learn About Biological Controls In The Greenhouse In A New Online Course

Biocontrols and beneficials absolutely can be used in outdoor production, with the use of banker plant systemsMichigan State University Extension (MSU) and Kansas State University Research and Extension are collaborating on a non-credit, pre-recorded online course on “Biological Control for Greenhouse Growers.” The enrollment period is open until Oct. 14, 2016, where the course will then be available until Jan. 13, 2017.

This is the third course in the College of Knowledge Online series offered on eXtension campus, the national Extension website. The course is intended for greenhouse growers and others interested in learning about the fundamental concepts of biological control and the challenges and opportunities associated with a biological control pest management program. The content of the course covers introductory materials to more advanced concepts, such as utilizing banker plants.


The four hours of pre-recorded lecture and video demonstrations are divided into six units:
Unit 1: Introduction to Greenhouse Biological Control. This is an overview of the challenges and opportunities of biological control, how biological control systems work, factors to consider when developing your program, and the importance and methodology of scouting in the greenhouse.
Unit 2: Commercially Available Biological Control Agents. This course covers the commercially available biological control agents sold in the U.S. and provides benchmark release rates and facts useful to those releasing biological control agents in the greenhouse.
Unit 3: Using Banker Plants in Biological Control Programs. This course discusses the four most common banker plant systems for green peach and melon aphids, greenhouse whiteflies, and western flower thrips.
Unit 4: Implementing a Biological Control Program. This course covers important issues such as quality control of biological control agents.
Unit 5: Interactions of Pesticides and Biological Control Programs. This will addresses integrating pesticides (including fungicides) with biological control agents.
Unit 6: Greenhouse Examples of Biological Control Systems: Application Strategy and Costs. This final course presents examples of biological control programs implemented by growers for wholesale spring bedding plants and greenhouse vegetable operations.

The course is taught on the eXtension campus website by Heidi Wollaeger, MSU Extension greenhouse and nursery educator. Raymond Cloyd of Kansas State University Research and Extension co-authored the course and provides supplemental video content.

Individuals enrolled in this self-paced course will take a pre-test and a final exam to assess their progress on the topics associated with the course. Self-assessment quizzes will engage individuals with the material. The course also provides links to additional resources on pertinent biological control topics.

Individuals enrolled in the fall session will have access to the course materials from Oct. 14, 2016, through Jan. 13, 2017. The summer session opens for enrollment on May 1, 2017, and the course material will be available to registrants from June 1, 2017 to Aug. 31, 2017.

Check out the Michigan State University Extension website for more information on the course.