Biobest gets 2013 off to a flying start, with a brilliant new system for delivering biological plant protection, replacing costly spraying. Biobest, a pioneer of biological control using bumblebees, presents the innovative “Flying Doctors®” concept.
Bumblebees, already used in the pollination of crops such as strawberries, can be used to bring microbial “medicine” to plants to control grey mould and other major diseases, which cause huge yield losses annually. Grey mould is spread through airborne particles, and infects strawberries and raspberries during the flowering period, yet only becomes visible when the fruit ripens or during storage – when it is too late to be controlled.
The new “Flying Doctors®” system is ingenious: it consists of a patented dispenser system that is available as a fully integrated option to the new standard bumblebee hive. As the bumblebees leave their hive, they walk through a tray of specially formulated microbial fungicide or microbial insecticide preparation, which clings to their legs and body. They then deliver this product directly to each flower they visit. The bumblebees’ hairy bodies and unique “buzz” pollination make them especially effective as delivery vehicles. It’s just what the doctor ordered: regular applications when and where you need it.
And it’s versatile. The dispenser can also be used to enhance pollination by placing commercially available pollen in the tray, instead of the microbial fungicide/insecticide. This application can be used in a number of fruit crops, including apples, almonds, kiwi, and cherries. This replaces labour-intensive spraying or dusting of the pollen, allowing growers to save up to 90% on pricey pollen bills.
The “Flying Doctors®” system represents pollination combined with crop protection, and Biobest’s busy bees ensure that not a single flower is missed. This simple yet effective method saves labour, requires less volume of product and also helps reduce the risk of pesticide resistance and residue problems, making it a truly sustainable agricultural solution. Growers get more out of their bumblebees, and more out of their crops – a winning combination.
And it works! Good results have already been obtained under test conditions at the Biobest Green Lab, as well as in commercial crops. “Flying Doctors®” brings together all the benefits of bumblebees, such as effective pollination even early in the season and under adverse weather conditions, with crop protection that fits current IPM programmes. It can be used in fruit or vegetable crops, and although the focus is currently on flower-associated diseases such as grey mould and pests like flower thrips, Biobest’s R&D team is hard at work exploring the potential of this new technology to combat foliar diseases and pests too.
Our planned launch of a new Western bumblebee species will allow growers in North America and Canada to take advantage of the scheme, with their own local “Flying Doctors®”. It’s a world-wide solution that makes a world of difference. That’s why we’ll be presenting the Flying Doctors system at the upcoming Fruit Logistica in Berlin, the world’s leading trade fair for the fresh fruit and vegetable business.
Biobest. We deliver sustainable crop management.