Pioneering IPM in cucumber greenhouses in Kazakhstan

The cultivation of cucumbers in high-tech greenhouses is now a major economic activity in the Almaty region, located in the southeast of Kazakhstan. The Greenhouse Tekeli Company has 5,3 ha of high-tech greenhouses and is led by Dutchman Hans Op Het Veld. This agronomist/consultant, member of the Group Bilancia Horticulture Projects LTD, is pioneering Integrated Pest Management with the support of Biobest.

Almaty growers used to rely almost exclusively on chemicals to control key pests like thrips and whitefly. “Legislation is becoming stricter with fewer and fewer chemicals being allowed. We are now running out of chemical options for whitefly control, due to increasing resistance of whitefly to pesticides” says Hans. “But that is not the only reason why relying exclusively on chemicals is a bad idea. Vegetables without chemical residues are the future. By spraying fewer chemicals, we have also learned that plants get less stress and produce more.”

Following a Biobest visit during early 2014, Hans decided to test an IPM strategy supported by regular visits of Biobest’s technical advisor Pascal Briand. A 2 ha trial was initiated during summer production. Releases of two beneficials, the predatory mite Amblyseius swirskii – a natural enemy of thrips and whitefly - and the parasitoid Encarsia formosa were put in place. The results were so encouraging that it was decided to use IPM on the full production area starting from August, the beginning of the new season.”

NutrimiteTM and A. swirskii in the nursery

Hans and Pascal now wanted to take a further step. Since the company does its own plant propagation in a nursery greenhouse, it was decided to start biocontrol in the nursery. “We released A. swirskii in the nursery a few days before the plants were transplanted. We did that in combination with Nutrimite™ to boost the initial predatory mite population.

“Starting biocontrol in the nursery gave us a double advantage,” explains Pascal. “The crop cycle can start with plants that are free of chemical residues and predatory mites are already present before pests arrive”.

A stepping stone for IPM success in the crop

Pascal continues “As of 2-3 weeks after transplanting, A. swirskii was again introduced, now in breeding sachets, in combination with Encarsia formosa cards. The breeding sachets continuously release new predatory mites. With regular applications of Nutrimite™, the grower was able to keep the swirskii population at the desired level until the end of the cycle. Chemical interventions were kept to an absolute minimum”.

After applying Nutrimite™ once in the nursery, I continued with weekly or bi-weekly applications after transplanting”, says Hans. “Applying Nutrimite™ with a Makita blower and Biobest’s Nutri-App attachment is fast and convenient”.

Tekeli Company is the first in Kazakhstan to introduce an IPM strategy. Other growers are showing a keen interest in what’s going on, eager to visit and get acquainted with IPM”, says Pascal. “We are confident that there is a lot of potential in Kazakhstan”.

For more information, please contact lise.verachtert@biobest.be.

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