In BC, our agriculture and research communities are national leaders when it comes to pest management, addressing societal pressures to reduce chemical pesticides while proactively planning for future pests.
Consumers, food marketers and local governments are placing greater demands on producers to reduce residue levels or eliminate the use of certain conventional pesticides altogether.
Microbial biopesticides, made up of living organisms, can be used alone or alternated with chemical products to reduce overall chemical load. But the number of registrations of these biological-based agents is relatively lower in Canada than in other countries.
Fortunately for BC, Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s Institute for Sustainable Horticulture (ISH) was purpose-built as a centre for researching and incubating microbial biocontrol products.
With funding from the Canada-BC Agri-Innovation Program, the ISH is developing production technologies to bring some native BC biocontrol products to market and testing samples of native fungi for their potential.
“We are piloting the production of blends of native beneficial fungi as biopesticides for use against a number of common BC pests in field vegetables, ornamentals and berries – for example, tuber flea beetle in potatoes and foliar pests in berry and ornamental crops,” states Dr. Deborah Henderson, Director of the ISH.
“We are also finding that some other BC soil fungi have good efficacy against common plant pathogens.”
With funding from the former Canadian Agricultural Adaptation Program, BC farmers are also using ISH’s expertise to stay one step ahead by registering biopesticides before they are needed.
Spodoptera exigua, the Beet Army worm, attacks horticultural crops including peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers. While it is not yet an annual pest in BC, its range is expanding.
By reviewing literature, consulting international experts and requesting a pre-registration consultation, the ISH is now preparing a pre-registration package for a natural Spodoptera baculovirus, proven effective against Beet Army worm, for submission to the Canadian Pest Management Regulatory Agency.
“Our growers are committed to using integrated pest management programs that use few, if any chemical insecticides,” states Peter Cummings, Chair of the BC Greenhouse Growers Association. “The increased availability of biopesticide products in BC will allow us to better manage the pest infestations while minimizing the impact on the environment.”
Funding: $9,775 through the former federal Canadian Agricultural Adaptation Program (SP215); $162,003 (INN039) and $122,120 (INN083) through the Canada-BC Agri-Innovation Program, under Growing Forward I & II, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative.