Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Bio-Pesticides / biologicals... What does this mean?

Q. Dudley asks about what ‘Biopesticides’? They are as referred to in this article- below. 

Answer: Biopesticides (generally called Biologicals in Australian farming) are using naturally produced product (chemical extracts or fungi or bacteria). For example, canola oil, paraffin oil and baking soda (aka ECOCARB) have pesticide effects and are considered biopesticides.

Did you know Canola Oil is classed as a Biopesticide?
Biopesticides fall into three major classes:
  1. Microbial pesticides consist of a microorganism (e.g., a bacterium, fungus, virus or protozoan) as the active ingredient. Microbial pesticides can control many different kinds of pests, although each separate active ingredient is relatively specific for its target pest[s]. For example, there are fungi that control certain weeds, and other fungi that kill specific.
The most widely used microbial pesticides is Bacillus thuringiensis, or Bt. Each strain of this bacterium produces a different mix of proteins, and specifically kills one or a few related species of insect larvae. While some Bt's control moth larvae found on plants, other Bt's are specific for larvae of flies and mosquitoes. The target insect species are determined by whether the particular Bt produces a protein that can bind to a larval gut receptor, thereby causing the insect larvae to starve.

Another example of this would be trichogamma sp. usage in pruning wound dowls.
  1. Plant-Incorporated-Protectants (PIPs) are pesticidal substances that plants produce from genetic material that has been added to the plant. For example, scientists can take the gene for the Bt pesticidal protein, and introduce the gene into the plant's own genetic material. Then the plant, instead of the Bt bacterium, manufactures the substance that destroys the pest. The protein and its genetic material, but not the plant itself, are regulated by EPA.
NOTE: We can’t do this in South Australian farming due to the current legislation.
  1. Biochemical pesticides are naturally occurring substances that control pests by non-toxic mechanisms. Conventional pesticides, by contrast, are generally synthetic materials that directly kill or inactivate the pest. Biochemical pesticides include substances, such as insect sex pheromones, that interfere with mating, as well as various scented plant extracts that attract insect pests to traps.
All of the major agrochemical companies are investing in Biopesticide research, looking for types 1, 2 and 3, to compliment there existing synthetically produced products. This is an evolution of making products in the lab by synthesis and then packaging these for use. Expect to see these entering into our farming systems.

What are the advantages of using biopesticides?

Biopesticides are usually inherently less toxic than conventional pesticides.
They may be cheaper for manufactures to make i.e grown not manufactured. 
Biopesticides generally affect only the target pest and closely related organisms, in contrast to broad spectrum, conventional pesticides that may affect organisms as different as birds, insects, and mammals.

Biopesticides often are effective in very small quantities and often decompose quickly, thereby resulting in lower exposures and largely avoiding the pollution problems caused by conventional pesticides.

An Awakening To The Value Of Biopesticides [Opinion]

Rick Melnick BPIA 
When I worked with Meister Media Worldwide to engineer its last special report on biopesticides in 2011, I was the company’s editorial director. At the time I had been covering ag production for about 16 years, and Meister was regarded as the most progressive and knowledgeable media company with respect to biological control.

A lot of that knowledge came from our involvement in a then fledgling organization called BPIA — the Biopesticide Industry Alliance. We became an ad hoc member of BPIA in 2003 and I attended my first BPIA meeting to learn more about the category. I recall that meeting vividly because everyone sat at the same table. It was a close-knit group totaling around 20 people.

By the time I recommended that first special report to the editorial team in 2011, membership in BPIA had surpassed 60 companies. Another group called the International Biocontrol Manufacturers Association (IBMA) had since sprung up in Europe and was beginning to draw large crowds to its meetings. There were changes afoot and where once I’d felt more than a hint of desperation within BPIA, I now sensed the mood had transformed to expectation. Something big was about to happen.
That’s exactly what I wrote about in my introduction to the first Rise of Biopesticides report. The biopesticide industry appeared to be at an inflection point, I told our readers. I have to admit that despite the changes I’d seen, part of me felt like I was going out on a limb. But as it turns out, I had no idea just how swift the changes in the biopesticide industry would be.

A Lot More Seats at the Table

Flash forward three years and I’m the Chairman of BPIA’s Board of Directors and work on the business management team at one of its founding member companies. Today, in addition to the tens of smaller biopesticide-producing members, BPIA membership includes such ag chem stalwarts as Bayer CropScience, Syngenta, DuPont, Monsanto, and BASF. Billions of biopesticide-driven dollars have changed hands since that first report and I can safely say that if there’s a table big enough to hold everyone at today’s BPIA meetings, I haven’t seen it.

If you’ve taken the time to read this report, hopefully you better understand what’s behind the dramatic growth. Agriculture — indeed the food value chain — has had a real awakening concerning the value of biopesticides as part of an integrated crop production program.

With the entry of these major suppliers into the biopesticide arena, whether or not biopesticides work is no longer the question. Now, people want to understand how they work. Consumers and regulators see biopesticides as environmentally responsible tools that can help minimize impact. Food companies see suppliers using biopesticides as strategic partners who bolster their sustainability efforts. Retailers see biopesticides as resistance fighters that can fill gaps in their portfolios and help maintain the life cycle of other important products. Crop advisors see all of the above and seek practical knowledge about biopesticides to help meet the demand and differentiate themselves among their peers.

As for my prediction in advance of the next report, I’m going to postulate that any lingering euphoria from this phase shift among biopesticide producers will quickly subside. The big boys are in town, and it’s time to get down to business. That’s good news for growers and the whole value chain.

Rick Melnick is Chairman, Biopesticide Industry Alliance (BPIA) Board Of Directors.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Vine Scale - UPDATE 4/8/2014

In the vineyard vines are beginning to break dormancy. At this point one of the vine pests reported is Grapevine Scale - below.

Grapevine scale.
Reports have been that scales have been seen in high numbers where they have been seen in previous years.

Cabernet Sauvignon, which has a tough bark, seems to help protect Vine Scale allowing their numbers to build up.

Vine Scale are commonly found in ‘hotspots’ generally in older vineyards. 
Vine scales produce a number of eggs over several days. The eggs are laid under the cover of the adult "scales" which offer protection during development. The adult dies once it has laid its eggs. Eggs hatch into "crawlers", which are tiny legged creatures which settle down and become an immobile scale.

DJ's recommend using specialised pesticide oils. Ask us for special rates and other information.

Click on image for a larger version.
Table - Options for the control of scale (black IPM compatible, blue text IPM transition, not recommended in IPM vineyards). Information produced by

The scale insects' waxy covering makes them quite resistant to pesticides, which are only effective against the juvenile crawler stage. However, scales can be controlled through biological control by beneficial insects. Many wasp species lay eggs through the scales shell.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Champion pruner of McLaren Vale crowned

Champion pruner of McLaren Vale crowned

The 2014 McLaren Vale Pruning Champion was crowned last Friday. The final proved to be a match race between the 2013 McLaren Vale winner Gurideep Singh who works for PI Contracting and Jeremy O'Donald from J&J Vineyard who was fresh from being awarded the Wolf Blass shield for the Winner of the Vine Pruning Championship of South Australia. The last five McLaren Vale competitions have been won between both of these gentlemen so each knew what they had to do to win.  

The two lined up to prune 4 panels of vines at the Willunga High School as quickly as possible. Once completed the judges Phil Rayner and John Petrucci assisted by Derek Cameron checked the competitors pruning and applied a 5 second penalty for each mistake made. Mistakes consist of cuts that are not flush or similar slight issues that affect the growth of the vine. Once the judging and timing was completed it showed Guri took in 8 minutes, an outstandingly quick time, with only 18 penalties which pushed Jeremy O'Donald into the runner up position. 

Event organisers Derek Cameron and James Hook said, “The fact is both of these gentlemen are amazingly talented pruners. Jeremy is the South Australian champion and Gurideep is a staggeringly quick pruner. He can spur prune a vine in 45 seconds which is a speed that can’t be matched!” 

As part of their prize as winner and runner up DJ’s Growers has agreed to sponsor Guri and Jeremy in future pruning competitions around Australia.