Biological control of pests and diseases can be a very effective, sustainable and environmentally friendly strategy for crop and forest protection as part of integrated pest management (IPM) practices. The availability of sufficient biological control products is important for an effective IPM strategy. Unfortunately, biological control alternatives against a range of important pests and pathogens – causing high economic losses to agriculture and forestry – are not or not sufficiently available at this moment. The EU is giving a major boost to the biological control market by co-financing the BIOCOMES project.
The objective of BIOCOMES is to develop 11 new biological control agents (BCAs) for key markets in European agriculture and forestry. The BCAs were identified through market analysis by six manufactures of biological control products. BCAs will be developed for use in open field crops (3) of vegetables, of which 2 are also for use in protected crops, arable crops (3), fruit crops (3), and three different types of forests (2).
Primary targeted pests are: gypsy moth (Lymantria dispar), pine weevil (Hylobius abietis), tomato leaf miner (Tuta absoluta), white flies, aphids of fruit tree crops and Mamestra brassicae.
Primary targeted pathogens are: damping-off diseases in forest nurseries, soil-borne pathogens of oilseed rape and cereals, brown rot (Monilinia spp.) of stone fruit, and powdery mildew of cereals (Blumeria graminis).
At the end of this project 11 new biological control products and two new technologies to improve the production of nematode and virus agents will have been developed.
Some of the BIOCOMES products will be available at the end of 2017. Others will be ready for registration and available on the market thereafter.