New R&D recruit will help identify new beneficials for a wider variety of crops
Thursday, April 11, 2019
Our commitment to in-house research and development to advance biological pest management in agriculture has been boosted by the recent addition of another entomologist to our team.
At any given time, Biological Services is exploring the potential of several cultures and organisms to control pests in field and greenhouse crops. The dedicated resources of our in-house R&D team not only allows us to more quickly identify potential new products, but also improves release methods and quality control, factors we know are critical to the uptake of integrated pest management by growers.
“We are passionate about helping the agricultural industry reduce its chemical footprint by providing quality products and advice on how to successfully integrate biological controls into pest management practice,” says Lachlan Chilman, Director of Biological Services.
“Traditionally, growers have sprayed chemicals on a calendar cycle but there is growing unease with this practice. Much like overuse of antibiotics giving rise to resistant super-bugs in human health, the overuse of chemicals in farming is leading to pest resistance, meaning chemicals are becoming less effective against pests they were designed to control,” he said.
“By identifying potential new predators and parasites, including a new product we expect to announce next month, our R&D team is key to our company helping more growers save chemicals for when they’re really needed,” he said.
The recent appointment of entomologist Sue Jaggar as Biological Services’ Manager for Research & Development and Quality Control takes the R&D team to five, with three based in Loxton, South Australia and two in Muchea. With a background in geophysics, Sue retrained as an entomologist in more recent years and her role with us includes the fine-tuning of rearing, harvesting and release methods as well as overseeing our quality control procedures.
“As an entomologist, I find it fascinating to study how insects interact and adapt to their conditions including some species having the ability to change form from male to female, or give the next generation the ability to grow wings in order for the species to survive,” Sue said.
“I had the opportunity to study two parasitic wasps reared by Biological Services during my PhD and have already seen the value of beneficial insects in agricultural pest management. I’m looking forward to working with the R&D team as we continue to explore new species, evolve our insect-rearing capabilities, and test new ideas like whether artificial diets can improve our production,” she said.
Sue joins a team with a strong track-record of important advancements and provides extra support to our WA R&D Supervisor, Juan Sorrequieta (pictured above). Among the team's more recent achievements is the use of remote-control technology to release beneficials over rough terrain and tall crops, and modifying packaging changes to better preserve the condition of beneficials during shipping.
“Our R&D Team is always looking for ways to improve things so the growers get better results, and one of the most recent developments was related to packaging,” Lachlan said.
“Around 18 months ago, we realised the way we were shipping some of our products had to change for larger orders. We were finding that the breathable bags containing predatory mites worked well for smaller orders but were being compressed and losing aeration during transit of bigger shipments. Our R&D Team developed a recyclable rigid cardboard canister with an air pocket left inside. This ensures growers receive the mites in excellent condition whether their order is big or small," he said.
Our quality control at Biological Services has earned a reputation across the country for delivering reliable products that are uncontaminated, in the correct concentrations, and which arrive in good health.