Innovative disease and pest control in outdoor ornamentals
This project was initiated in response to a request of several growers of outdoor ornamental plants, to grow high quality plants in an alternative way, with a reduced amount of chemical plant protection products. Because most growers of outdoor ornamentals still rely on preventative fungicide applications for disease control and chemical pest treatments based on damage symptoms, alternatives are needed. This project will focus on developing sustainable control methods for four important crop protection problems in outdoor ornamentals: aphids, caterpillars, Phytophthora and Calonectria, which will become a model for innovative crop protection systems in outdoor ornamentals. Currently there is only limited knowledge on efficiency and practical application of such alternative crop protection methods in outdoor ornamentals, which results in difficult adoption of these methods by growers and a very limited success ratio.
In this agricultural research project we want to include the cost-effectiveness of the proposed methods as well. The financial impact of all technically validated methods will be calculated for different standard types of outdoor ornamental farms, to determine which application strategy delivers the best control: cost ratio for each system. This way growers will receive practical solutions adapted to their company and growing system.
To achieve this knowledge-gain and to deliver practical, tailor-made, solutions during the project duration, PCS – Ornamental Plant Research (PCS), Ghent University and ILVO will join forces. Specifically, during the four-year term, practical knowledge will be built-up in the following areas to enable a smooth implementation at grower level:
· The sustainable application of beneficials and the support of their population build-up, for the control of caterpillars in outdoor crops, with the box tree moth as focus organism
· The application and support of beneficials for the control of aphid species, specifically those species present on Rhododendron
· Non-chemical control of the fungal disease Calonectriaby means of innovative bacteria based solutions
· Non-chemical control of Phytophthora by means of biopesticides
· Investigation of possible positive effect of biostimulants since they improve the nutrient use efficiency, tolerance to abiotic stress, crop quality, and/or the availability of confined nutrients in soil or rhizosphere.
· Investigation of possible antagonistic or synergistic interactions between successful biopesticdes for disease control and beneficial insects used for pest control
· Rentability control of all proposed strategies, which will be summarized into a tool to aid growers in choosing the right combination of solutions, which show a technically good result and have an affordable cost for their type of farm
· Practical validation of the proposed solutions
· Knowledge transfer and inflow of strategies to growers by advising growers on-farm as wel as validation experiments at the research station and growers