User Story of Pats Drones – The Westland

14 March 2024 | Int. Greenhouse Guide |

Cooperation Royal Brinkman, PATS and Agrobío:
Biological caterpillar control at Kwekerij het Westland

Nursery the Westland will start a large-scale field trial for biological control of caterpillars in bell peppers in January 2024. Tomato looper and Tuta absoluta cause considerable economic damage in bell pepper cultivation. With the disappearance of chemical agents, it is important to make the most of the possibilities of biological control.  The field trial revolves around detection with the PATS-C moth detection system combined with the deployment of the parasitic wasp Trichogramma achaeae as a biological solution.

One department where signaling by PATS-C is combined with the use of TRICHOcontrol (the parasitic wasp Trichogramma achaeae) and a second department in combination with traditional crop protection agents. The faster the first signaling is from the tomato looper and the better the distribution of TRICHOcontrol is, the better and faster the caterpillar control will work.

Digital data collection
Moths lay eggs from which caterpillars develop, causing leaf and fruit damage. With the elimination of chemical agents, it is important to detect moths earlier. This is possible with the PATS-C automatic detection system. Growers have an earlier view of moths and can take action sooner, before the pest gets out of control. The technology involves the simple mounting of a PATS-C detection system to the greenhouse frame. Detection takes place at night, when the moths are active, and are captured by the camera. By linking to a data recording technique, the grower gets an overview of the presence of moths and the development of pest pressure in the morning, through clear graphs in his dashboard. Recognition at an early stage becomes possible, which is crucial for immediate intervention at the first pest pressure. PATS-C is an automatic detection system for all moth species, including not only Tomato looper (Chrysodeixis) and Tuta absoluta but also DuponcheliaOpogona (banana moth) and leafrollers. The advantage is that it provides the grower with a faster and more efficient detection system compared to the use of pheromone traps or trap lights. Users also mention the advantage of learning more about the behavior of moths (when they are active) and what effect a crop protection treatment has on the population. Advisors can also monitor pest pressure remotely.

The practical trial at Kwekerij het Westland in  the Netherlands compares two departments.

A good biological solution for caterpillar control was not available in the past. With the parasitic wasp Trichogramma achaeae, it was difficult to achieve good parasitization of moth eggs. Agrobío’s new TRICHOcontrol is a product variant whose pupa come out very quickly and dosed. Now this is 3-14 days, where it used to be 10-14 days. A parasitization rate of almost 100% is realized. Combined with PATS-C signaling of
the very first moth and starting immediately with Trichogramma, expectations for this trial are high.

Kwekerij Het Westland in Naaldwijk has gained experience with PATS-C since May 2023.
Chris Bos: “With PATS-C we signaled very well the presence of tomato loopers, while at that time I found no adults in the traps. These insights help me respond even faster and more adequately to pest pressure. We have already experimented a bit with TRICHOcontrol last season and we have seen that Trichogramma also gives good parasitization in higher growing crops like bell pepper, but at the start the pest pressure was already too high. Next season we will therefore start this larger practical trial from the start of the new crop”.

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