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Biocontrol advances from Israel

In October François-Xavier Boulanger, Biobest’s International Process Developer, joined 20 researchers from 15 countries to attend an international training program in Israel. Funded by the EU, and organized by COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology) the five-day event was hosted by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, in Rehovot. The goal was to share progress made in biological control, with strong attention for organic and pesticide free crop production systems.

“Agriculture in general and the application of biocontrol in particular are well advanced in Israel,” says François-Xavier. “Greenhouses are relatively low-tech compared with for example the Netherlands, but production systems are quite comparable to operations in other parts of the Mediterranean region.

“With a number of outstanding speakers, this was a great event to discuss general issues facing our industry worldwide, such as the quality of biocontrol agents and the transport challenges. It also provided good networking opportunities and interesting visits, e.g.in connection with Israel’s use of the sterile insect technique (SIT) in citrus crops. With this technique male sterile fruit flies are released in large quantities by the government, as a result wild females lay unfertilized eggs.”

The training preceded the 9th meeting of the IOBC/WPRS Working Group on integrated control in Mediterranean protected crops. Also hosted by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, this meeting on “Pest Management in an Ever-Changing World” aimed to explore the industry’s future.

“Rearing high quality natural enemies at an affordable price remains a key challenge to further advance the impact of biocontrol and to further reduce the use of agrochemicals,” says François-Xavier. “Production process development is therefore of strategic importance. That’s why I’m delighted to be part of a Biobest team working continuously on improving the cost effectiveness and reliability of our production systems.

For more information, please contact François-Xavier Boulanger (fx.boulanger@biobest.be).

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