Farmers are being sought to take part in a project to develop a new biopesticide to tackle a major pest in oilseed rape crops.
Crop Health and Protection (Chap) – one of our agri-technology centres across the UK – is working to find a new way of tackling cabbage stem flea beetle (CSFB) infestations in oilseed rape crops.
The project is run in partnership with agricultural problem-solving body CABI, biostimulant pest control manufacturer Russell Bio Solutions, and seed company H&T Bioseed.
Chap says an alternative to the now-banned neonic insecticides, which were previously used to tackle CSFB, is needed due to a growing resistance to pyrethroids – another chemical control method for the pest.
It said CSFB was responsible for UK oilseed rape yields in 2019 being the lowest in five years, and the pest cost UK growers an estimated £79 million last year.
The project partners will work to develop different formulations of a fungal biopesticide to target CSFB in oilseed rape at different stages of the crop’s development.
Work will then be done to scale-up the process and to develop targeted application systems for the biopesticide.
Farmers will be asked to take part in knowledge exchange events to share their views on the project and the potential for the new product.
“CSFB damage is a massive challenge for oilseed rape growers,” said Chap international business development manager, Dr Jenna Ross.
“This project is extremely timely and brings together leading scientists, innovators and businesses to develop a much-needed solution for the sector.”
She added: “Our focus on end-user engagement is key for market adoption. We at Chap are thrilled to be leading this project that aims to meet the oilseed rape market demand and increase crop productivity, while achieving net-zero emissions and wider environmental benefits.”
Russell Bio Solutions managing director, Dr Nayem Hassan, said: “We are really excited to see microbial technology becoming available to farmers to help them sustainably combat CSFB and avoid significant yield losses.”
H&T Bioseed managing director, Paul Oliver, said: “We are proud to be part of a project that has the potential to improve crop growth for farmers as well as provide better outcomes for the environment.”
Farmers wishing to get involved with the project are asked to contact Dr Jenna Ross at email@example.com or by phone on 07732 684788.