Thursday, 8 May 2014

Completely avoiding bees while spraying and creating a right stink - two new exciting ideas

A smelly greenhouse helps tomatoes grow!

Avoiding bees completely when spraying Oil seed rape
would be a great improvement 

Companies are constantly looking at ways of improving the way that they apply pesticides so that they hit the target problem with minimum impact on non target organisms. So I was pleased to read of a new spraying technique in oilseed rape which could reduce the amount of pesticides that bees are exposed to and also see added benefits of better pest and disease control.

Trials carried out at the University of Hohenheim in Germany have shown that by using a dropleg device, which extends the spray nozzle down below the flower canopy, farmers are able to significantly reduce the amount of pesticides found in beehives.Rather than covering the flowers that provide food for bees, the spray is distributed lower down the plant, with a 98% reduction in spray drift.

About 90% of Oilseed rape crops are sprayed in Germany, which has led to high number of different pesticides being found in the stored pollen in beehives and some honey being rejected for human consumption. During the initial research an analysis of more than 100 beehives showed at least 10 actives were detected in each beehive, albeit at very low levels, any pesticide is of course unwanted
Dr Döring, the lead scientist said “Cabbage seed weevils are one of the main pest threats in Germany, but the shyness of these insects may benefit growers should they try this type of spray system. If the weevils feel something is moving within the crop, they quickly drop off the plant as a defence mechanism, falling down to the soil and so come into contact with the pesticide.“There is still a long way to go until this technology will be established on farms, but with current pressures it may be needed sooner rather than later if it proves successful,” he adds.

Another completely different project being worked on by scientists at Newcastle university, is bombarding pests with smells from many different plants, temporarily confusing them and hindering their ability to feed.

Biologists at Newcastle University have been exploring the potential of harmless plant odours as an alternative to pesticides in greenhouses.The team pumped a mixture of plant smells into a greenhouse growing tomato plants, exposing the whitefly pest to a heady aroma of cucumber, courgette, watercress, watermelon, cabbage and bean which resulted in the insects became temporarily disorientated, so that the whiteflies failed to feed at all while they were being bombarded with the different smells.

 “It’s like trying to concentrate on work while the TV’s on and the radio’s blaring out and someone’s talking to you. You can’t do it – or at least not properly or efficiently – and it’s the same for the whitefly explained Dr Colin Tosh, (What a great name!) Whitefly use their sense of smell to locate tomato plants, so by bombarding their senses with a range of different smells we create ‘sensory confusion’ and the result is that the insect becomes disorientated and are unable to feed."

Two rather clever ideas I think you will agree!


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