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Biopesticides for the control of storage insect pests - LK0967

Project LK0967 Biopesticides for the control of storage insect pests

Start date: 01/04/2005 End date: 30/09/2009

Partners: The Food and Environment Research Agency, CABI Europe-UK, Exosect Ltd, Sylvan Somycel, AHDB-HGCA, Weetabix Ltd, Marks and Spencer plc, BOCM Pauls Ltd, Linnaeus Ltd, Igrox Ltd, Smiths Flour Mills, RHM Ltd.

Executive Summary: The UK grain industry stores many tonnes of grain each year. Currently, chemical insecticides are used to protect this grain from infestation by stored product insects and mites. Only a limited number of products are available for application and there are concerns about safety, resistance and environmental impact of these conventional pesticides. In principle, the biological control of storage pests could overcome these problems. A previous LINK funded project (LK0914) established the potential for biological control of storage pests in the UK, using an insect-specific fungus Beauveria bassiana. The current project (LK0967) has investigated ways to increase the efficacy of the fungus and has also undertaken research to establish that mass production of high quality conidia is possible, to ensure that formulations have a good shelf-life and has sought feedback from stakeholders with regard to this novel control method.
The work has concentrated on two different fungal isolates, both of which were found from insects in UK grain stores. The main objectives of the current project were:
1. To improve the efficacy of the insect-specific fungi when in contact with insects.
2. To improve the delivery of the insect-specific fungus to the insects.
3. To ensure the consistency and the safety of the product.
4. To ensure that the biopesticide product has wide acceptability and is effective under practical use.
Significant progress has been made for all four objectives. Optimisation of production methods, formulation and delivery systems has resulted in prototype formulations that have good efficacy against a range of storage insect pests under conditions that are likely to be found in UK grain stores. Valuable information on the viability and efficacy of a range of formulation types has been obtained, together with studies on the likely effect of the formulations on insect behaviour. Pilot scale trials using three species of stored product beetle have shown that significant levels of control can be achieved. Successful mass production of the conidia is necessary if the biopesticide is to be considered at a commercial level. This project has developed methods to ensure that mass production of the conidia at an industrial scale is possible. During the course of the project the views of stakeholders and end-users have been sought. Specific concerns were addressed and the feedback was used to focus the research aims. The registration and safety issues for the use of a biopesticide have also been studied. This project has made a significant contribution to the development of a biopesticide as a structural treatment for grain storage areas in the UK. Biological control as a component of an integrated pest management approach for UK grain storage is therefore an exciting possibility.

Benefits to industry and exploitation plans
Developments to improve uptake and germination of the fungus have resulted in prototype formulations that cause significant levels of insect mortality under typical UK storage conditions. The research and industry partners are keen that these developments are researched further, with a view to ultimately realizing a commercially available product. To this end discussions on future exploitation are on-going. Further studies at a larger scale, finalization of the product formulations and evidence of financial viability are needed prior to further consideration of product registration.

Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2005

To: 2009

Cost: £393,114
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Somycel, RHM Group Ltd, Weetabix Ltd, CABI Bioscience, Smiths Flour Mills, Central Science Laboratory, Home Grown Cereals Authority, Igrox Ltd, Exosect, Marks and Spencer plc, BOCM Pauls Ltd
Arable Farming              
Biological Control              
Crop Pests              
Insecticide use              
Pest Control              
Fields of Study
Arable Crops