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Are biological solutions the golden goose we're after?

Ornamentals Advisory Blog
17.09.2019

Questions. We’re surrounded by them on a daily basis. “Questioning” is seen as a positive thing, being “inquisitive” is a sign you’re “curious”. So this week I’m going to be asking the questions: Are biological crop protection products the golden goose we’ve been looking for?

We, along with our competitors are continuously trying to bring products to market that have been designed to meet customer demands and over the past few years, we have seen more demand to deliver biological solutions as well. But something we actually want to know is, “why?” We are asked so often “when are you bringing a biological solution to market” and it’s not through lack of trying – they’re coming, but another question is, are you - the grower - willing to accept biological solutions with the Achilles Heel of less efficacy in peak stress periods? Is the customer willing to accept aphid damage, for example?

 

Biostimulants all year round?

I find the challenges of ornamental plant production fascinating. I know that throughout the year, ornamental crops aren’t under severe stress all the time, it goes in peaks and troughs with the seasons. So in reality, do biological solutions have their place in those low stress periods and can we still produce good crops under high stress, but without conventional pesticides? In reality, the latter is unlikely in the near future. Looking at the graph below, areas of lower stress are exactly when biological solutions will have their place when integrated with your conventional pesticides. That’s the balance you need to find.

For example, what happens if it’s 28° outside and it’s the 14th September? Can a biological solution cope with aphids crawling all over your greenhouse at a time when you thought you could relax your programme? Biologicals by their nature work best as a preventative, not curative solution and this is when your conventional pesticide solutions step in.

 

But, shelf life!

Ornamental plant production is unique. Unlike arable crops or turf, another form of pressure has got to be that of shelf life. As you wave off yet another truck full of bedding plants destined for the garden centre, in reality, how long are they really going to sit there? We have seen from our own trials that biological solutions work well when the plant is under shelf life stresses. For me, that’s when biological solutions can have a real role to play in reducing plant degradation. Our colleagues in Holland certainly think so and in the near future we will have a guest writer on the blog talking you through some of our trial results from Holland. Hopefully that will be an interesting one.

 

So, where does that leave me?

More questions than we started with, that’s where we are... Did curiosity kill the cat? Or was it taken out by the golden goose? We hope in the near future to provide you with a biological solution to help you through those tricky times and ensure valuable shelf life. But until that moment comes, ensure you have a diverse programme that contains curative and preventative solutions to cope with the peaks and troughs of stress. And don’t forget you can contact us on our social channels with any questions you may have:

 

Twitter: @syngentaOCUK

Instagram: syngenta_ornamentals

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