By Jennie Smith
We create chemistry for a sustainable future.
We’re faced with a lot of choices, and we want to make the right decisions because the ones we make today create our future. Why the philosophical introduction? Because we’re at a transition in professional horticulture where we realize we don’t have to choose between being a grower who uses biologicals or one who uses conventional chemistry. We know now that the best growers rely on both.
Not too long ago, we sifted ourselves into these two groups using words like organic, sustainable and beneficials, or chemistry, conventional and pesticides as though they existed in two separate realms. Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is the practice that brings us back together; it’s our system of methods and controls to grow by. A successful IPM program implements biological and conventional tools, and it also uses cultural and mechanical methods. What does that look like? It includes everything from scouting to releasing beneficials, to trapping pests, to excluding pests, to spraying. These activities create a scaffolding to produce stronger and healthier plants, which in turn sell through at higher rates and yield better returns.
So back to those choices we talked about. In commercial growing operations we strive to manage pest and disease pressure to deliver the best crop possible. We are moving beyond the idea that if you implement biological controls you don’t use chemistry, or vice versa. We know that most operations are already utilizing IPM programs to reduce pressure and manage resistance. Now we’re focused on optimizing those approaches and programs.
Coming to my new role as Ornamentals Sales Manager for BASF from a decade of outdoor growing and business development in horticulture, I’ve seen the number of tools expand rapidly. We’re seeing new conventional tools and new biological approaches entering the IPM space. That’s everything from new biological control agents (BCAs), pesticides and biopesticides, to artificial intelligence and monitoring systems. The articles in this edition of the Plant Health Guide touch on those ideas: new technologies, integration of controls, and optimization of growing conditions and practices.
There are three key elements to using these successfully: work with reputable sources, engage your sources with questions about your specific situation, and evaluate your implementation.
This year BASF will launch its first registered biopesticide, Velifer™ Fungal Contact Insecticide/Miticide. This is an exciting time for our organization, taking experience gained in global markets to U.S. growers. We want to be the leaders in offering comprehensive and integrated solutions for our customers.
Velifer is a versatile and complementary tool in our sustainable solutions portfolio. Together with Ventigra™ Insecticide we’ve developed an integrated approach to management of mites, aphids, thrips, and beyond, through the whole growing season. We have tested both chemistries according to International Organisation Biological Controls (IOBC) standards for compatibility with beneficial insects. Why? Because we are committed to both stewardship and integration, and standardized compatibility information is key to making it all work.
We’ve worked with growers who are brand new to biologicals and those who have used them for decades. We can credit the success of these operations to their ability to evolve and implement, and we all benefit from the many growers and other industry professionals who share their successful practices. Whether an operation is experimenting with beneficial nematodes as a gateway to using biologicals for the first time or is raising their own beneficials and growing banker plants, we’ve come a long way as an industry. It’s easier than ever to find solutions in an ever-expanding palate of tools.
As you make your choices, remember that you don’t have to choose a side: biological and conventional chemistries, BCAs, and our best cultural practices work best when they are deployed together. Take that integrated approach to taming pests and use it to increase sell through rates and yield.
Jennie Smith is Regional Sales Manager (US) – Greenhouse & Nursery, Biologicals Team Lead, Professional & Specialty Solutions
Learn more about other BASF ornamental innovations at www.betterplants.basf.us ©2019 BASF Corporation. Always read and follow label directions.