New approaches to controlling scab and codling moth that are paying huge dividends for fruit farmers will be highlighted at this year’s National Fruit Show in October.
TExhibitor Agrovista will be raising awareness of its web-based pest and disease prediction service that combines state-of-the-art software with accurate weather data to take the guesswork out of pesticide spraying.
The system – known as Growers’ Choice Interactive (GCI) – reduces costs, eliminates unnecessary treatments and is proving extremely effective at reducing pests and disease in orchards.
The company will be using the show, which takes place at the Kent Showground at Detling Hill, near Maidstone, on 20 and 21 October, to highlight the benefits of GCI to growers. Agrovista is a sponsor of the show, alongside Norman Collett Ltd, BASF and International Controlled Atmosphere (ICA) Ltd.
Agrovista’s Fruit Team Leader Paul Bennett explained that Agrovista used specialist Rimpro software developed in Holland by Marc Trapman to analyse weather data collected from around 20 weather stations situated in Kent and other fruit-growing areas. “We know that when it rains, spores are released from the previous year’s leaf litter and can then affect the new growth, but spraying every time it rains simply isn’t cost-effective.
“By monitoring temperature, rainfall, humidity and leaf wetness and then using our sophisticated software to analyse that data, we can alert growers to the times when the conditions are right for the spores not just to be released but to damage the crop. “This takes the guesswork out of spraying, saves on fungicide costs and makes sure that spraying is only done when it will actually achieve something,” said Paul.
Agrovista has also made huge progress in tackling codling moth, which has long been a huge problem for apple and pear growers. Using a pheromone trap to show the number of male moths flying is of limited use because it only tells part of the story, Paul explained.
“Using accurate weather data, our model can show when there are likely to be female moths about and when egg laying and caterpillar hatching is likely to occur, which is far more useful to the grower. Recent trials have shown that while using pheromone traps would have meant spraying towards the beginning of May, actual mating and egg laying did not take place until the second or third week in June.
“All that spraying based on the old-fashioned method would have been completely wasted – giving the farmer an unnecessary bill as well as extra, pointless, work.”
Agrovista has also been involved in helping UK growers take advantage of adjuvant technology developed by Helena Chemicals in the USA.
“Young apple leaves are small and very hairy, and at Agrovista we were concerned that the hairs were preventing the fungicide wetting the leaf adequately,” explained Paul.
“We wanted to make sure we could get the leaf wet enough, and so we worked with BASF on adding different adjuvants – solutions that help chemical products work more effectively – to scab fungicides, and came up with a real success story called Transcend.
“This mixture of oil and silicon wetting agent works remarkably well and has made a huge difference to the effectiveness of scab treatments.
“After successful small plot trials we moved on to a larger plot in an area we knew was particularly susceptible to scab. When we assessed the orchard at the end of the season it was clear even before we carried out detailed tests that we had a winner on our hands. Transcend really does make scab applications much more effective.”
BASF will also be exhibiting at the National Fruit Show, alongside companies including Bayer, Norman Collett Ltd, Hadlow College, Aston Horticulture, Worldwide Fruit, ICA, Scorpion, South East Farmer, Defra and Maxicrop. For a full list and more information visit www.nationalfruitshow.org.uk.