Finnish growers meet the Flying Doctors®

On 21 April, sixty strawberry and raspberry growers from Finland attended an exciting workshop organized by Biobest.

The workshop took place in the company of Jarvenkyla, Biobest’s distributor in southern Finland. About sixty raspberry and strawberry growers attended the workshop. In the morning session, Dirk Aerts, area manager, and Sam Gui, sustainable crop management specialist at Biobest Belgium, made the participants acquainted with the possible contribution of Biobest to their pollination efforts and fight against diseases.

Central in the workshop was the control of grey mold. This harmful fungus, also called Botrytis, needs continuous care and labour. Hence chemical crop protection involves an important cost for the growers. Due to continuously lowering limits for residues, strawberry/raspberry growers are forced to look for other options.

Sam and Dirk presented to the participants an innovative biological control method: the application of the biofungicide Prestop® Mix*, by the bumblebees of the Biobest’s Flying Doctors® hive. “Our public was excited about our story of Prestop® Mix, how it is distributed to the flowers and how it’s used in a preventative way,” says Dirk.

The active substance of Prestop® Mix is a beneficial fungus, namely Gliocladium catenulatum J1446, that occupies the surface of the flower. When Botrytis tries to install itself later, there is no place or food left. Besides this preventive mechanism, Gliocladium also wraps itself around the first appearing pathogenic fungi and produces specific enzymes that will breakdown its cell-walls. Ultimately Gliocladium will destroy Botrytis. Since last year, Prestop® Mix is authorized for use with bumblebees in Finland.

The technology consists of a bumblebee hive ‘upgraded’ with a patented dispenser system. Dirk: “When the bumblebees leave the hive through the dispenser, Prestop® Mix sticks to the hairs of their bodies and Prestop® Mix is taken straight to the flowers. Precision delivery by the Flying Doctors® provides easy, effective and economical biocontrol of Botrytis.”

For more information, please contact Sam Gui (sam.gui@biobest.be).

* In Belgium, The Netherlands and France Prestop® Mix will soon be available as Prestop 4B.

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