April 27, 2017

Isoclast™ active – First impressions

Jose Hernández, Technician at Dow AgroSciences Spain interviews Isabel Céspedes, Technical Director at Céspedes, a company focusing on agricultural and environmental solutions in Almeria, Southern Spain.

In her day-to-day role, Isabel Céspedes advises producers on the most appropriate production strategies whilst negotiating with suppliers to access the most effective crop protection products. After visiting an Isoclast™ active trial site, she talks Jose Hernandes through her first impressions about the product, as well as detailing the key problems faced by producers in Almeria.

1. What do you know about Isoclast so far?

I have been aware of Isoclast for 4 or 5 years as Dow AgroSciences has given us regular updates about the product and its potential use in the Almerian region. My first real experience with Isoclast happened last year when we went to visit a seed-bed trial. Isoclast’s efficacy was being tested against other products currently on the market that are used in a similar way. Even then Isoclast’s speed of action impressed us particularly in comparison to the other active ingredients at the trial – Plenum, Epik, Movento and Teppeki.

2. What are the main crops in Almeria and the pests that affect them?

The main greenhouse crops are pepper, tomato and cucurbits. Most pepper crops are grown under biological control which can be vulnerable to caterpillars. In tomato cultivations the biggest problem is whitefly (not because of the effect of the fly itself, but because of the transmission of virus). With cucurbits the key problem is the whitefly virus transmission.

3. Is whitefly more problematic in all crops because of its consequent transmission of viruses rather than the pest itself?

Yes. We can actually control the pest itself (unless we are facing a huge infestation) but the effect of virus transmission is more serious. Some crops are grown in greenhouses where we have physical methods to restrict whitefly. But sometimes a small number of plants have the virus and they can damage the whole crop.  Take zucchini for example – we need to ensure that the crop doesn’t get whitefly because as soon as even a low level of viruses come into contact with only a few of the plants, the whole crop can be damaged.

Additionally aphid control is also key on organic farms, which are now increasing in number in Almeria.

4. Overall, what are the most frequent problems you have today in Almeria with the insecticides that are currently available?

In Almeria we use integrated production systems, meaning that biological control agents are also used in crop production, together with products.

This involves the use of beneficial insects and therefore we always have to consider the following product attributes:

  1. They don’t harm beneficial insects.
  1. They are truly effective. Not all products that we use are completely effective, as some are harmless to beneficial insects but this compromises their efficacy on key pests.
  1. Another problem we face is the control of active substances by the food retailers, who often impose a series of rules that are restrictive and that don’t conform to European standards. For example, some supermarkets demand a maximum of three active substances in a crop at harvest, and a residue level which is one-third of the allowed Maximum Residue Limit (MRL). This limits us when making recommendations to producers and can undermine our recommended strategies regarding crop rotation. This approach can also lead to problems of resistance due to repetitive use of the same substances.

In conclusion it’s clear that Isoclast™ active can help support the sustainable supply and price stability of fruit and vegetables by addressing food losses caused by insect pests. The good news is that this innovative ingredient will be available to European producers during 2018.