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Endulini Fruit introduces biological pest control in citrus

Oct 7, 2019
Endulini Fruit introduces biological pest control in citrus

Elundini - Consumers, and consequently supermarkets, demand products free of pesticide residues and with much of the citrus produced by Endulini Fruit being exported to Europe, the European Union Directive 2009/128/EC, which aims to reduce the risks and impact of pesticides on human health and the environment, has led to the popular citrus producer using softer pesticides and introducing biological pest control.

“Market drivers, European regulations and our understanding of the impact of pesticides on the environment and bio-diversity has led to us using 90-95% less red label products and biological pest control for crops,” remarks Endulini Fruit CEO, Pietie Ferreira.

“We want to protect our environment for future generations and knowing that many pests have built up a resistance to pesticides demonstrates that the exclusive use of hard chemicals isn’t a long-term solution.”

Introducing biological pest control

Biological pest control is an environmentally safe alternative to conventional chemical control.

Talking about the introduction of biological pest control at Endulini Fruit Stephen Meeding, Technical Manager for Endulini Fruit, remarks saying, “Biological control involves the use of one or more types of beneficial organisms, to reduce the numbers of another type of organism. As a result, Endulini is able to deliver a product that’s kinder to the environment and eliminates pesticide residue.”

The use of biological control is a continuously growing industry, and in its infancy with South Africa compared to the rest of the world. The global industry has been established for 30 years of and benefits from well-developed mass production systems, quality control programs, a research sector, specific shipment and release methods and specialised advice for farmers.

Drawing on this insight and experience, Endulini Fruit has introduced two types of biological control: classical biological control to protect its crops against pests of foreign origin and augmentative biological control to increase the population of the natural predators of local pests.

Classical biological control involves the introduction of specialist natural predators from the pest’s place of origin and is a long-term fight against alien pests. And augmentative biological control increases the populations of the natural enemies by means of massive releases of agents purchased from bio-factories.

Augmentative biological control is either inoculative where the natural predators are introduced in small numbers early in the season, usually for greenhouse crops.

They then go on to reproduce and feed on the pest and therefore suppress pest populations.

The inundative approach involves mass releases of commercially reared natural enemies and is used for rapid pest suppression and when the population of natural enemies is expected to be low and insufficient to control pests.

There is a third form, though not to be introduced as yet on the Endulini farms, conservation biological control. This process involves the manipulation of the agricultural environment to preserve and enhance the existing populations of natural enemies. Manipulations include the provision of alternative food sources for natural enemies such as nectar, pollen, alternative prey or shelter.

Integrated pest management (IPM)

The introduction of biological pest control is part of an integrated pest management (IPM) plan to reduce the impact of pesticides on the environment and bio-diversity.

Biological control is the cornerstone for IPM an ecosystem-based strategy that focuses on the long-term prevention of pests through a combination of techniques such as biological control, cultural methods (habitat manipulation, modification of cultural practices, and use of resistant varieties) and pesticides (only after monitoring indicates they are needed and applied in a manner that minimises risks to human health, beneficial and non-target organisms, and the environment).

“Many believe pesticide residue has an impact on human health but the risk assessment for pesticide residues in food by the Joint FAO/WHO Meeting on Pesticide Residues (JMPR), establishes safe intake levels,” remarks Meeding.

“Acceptable daily intakes are used by governments to establish maximum residue limits (MRLs) for pesticides in food, with limits enforced by authorities to ensure that the amount of pesticide residues consumers are exposed to through eating food over a lifetime will not have adverse health effects.

"We adhere to these levels when using pesticides to ensure food safety. Our focus is on protecting our environment for future generations.”

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