Around fifty agricultural professionals, farmers, technicians and students gathered last October 21 at INTIA's experimental farm in Sartaguda to learn first-hand about the tests that are being carried out within the framework of the LIFE AGROintegra project on the abovementioned crops.
In this event, special attention was given to pests and control strategies that are currently being tested in thistle, chard and borage crops, called minor crops and as such, do not have many effective control alternatives.
From the outset, Ricardo Biurrun, INTIA's pest specialist, highlighted the effectiveness of flowering bands as a reservoir of beneficial insect species for pest control such as caterpillars and various aphid species. These experiences with flowery bands have been studied at INTIA for more than 10 years. In the tests of the LIFE AGROintegra project, more than 17 species of flowers have been tested, sown at different times, so that insects have pollen to feed on throughout the summer and early autumn and auxiliary populations are abundant to cover the entire period of horticultural crops, from summer to well into autumn.
The INTIA technician then went on to explain the objectives of the tests carried out on borage, thistle and chard, aimed at controlling the different species of lepidoptera caterpillars, mainly Spodoptera exigua, Helicoverpa armígera and Autographa gamma, species that attack these crops. In each trial Biurrun explained the control strategies by comparing several natural insecticides applied at different dates with other synthetic products, to assess the efficacy of these programs within the GIP control system. He also presented a control system in the three crops in a biological way, by releasing predatory bed bugs at the beginning of the crop. With the release of these insects and the application of natural insecticides, we want to achieve the control of the above-mentioned pests without having to resort to the application of synthetic insecticides, more dangerous for people and the environment.
The green bean also occupied a space in the visit and we could see a trial in ecological, whose objective was the control of leaf defoliating caterpillars.
In this field day, borage diseases were also prominent. In this crop the technician Jesús Zúñiga, INTIA's specialist in diseases, presented a trial with 8 variants and several dates of application, to check the effectiveness in the control of powdery mildew, the main fungus that attacks the crop. In the absence of conventional fungicides authorised in borage, the purpose of the test is to test the efficacy of other natural products in various applications. This type of products have less persistence against powdery mildew and therefore need to be compared with the most widely used fungicides, which are sulphur-based products.
The day ended with a further meeting to present the results obtained from these experiences of the LIFE AGROintegra project, aimed at reducing the use of phytosanitary products in crops and replacing them with others that are less hazardous to the environment and human health.