Our product portfolio features a comprehensive range of IPM solutions - including beneficial insects, predatory mites, bumblebees, insect pathogenic nematodes and biopesticides as well as monitoring, scouting and pheromones products.
Micromus-System, Biobest’s unique new biocontrol tool which feeds on all common aphid species found in protected crops, has won the GreenTech Innovation Award for the most revolutionary idea.
“We’re delighted to win this award which recognises the key elements – research, development, and innovation – that are helping future proof the sector and contribute to its sustainability,” says Ines De Craecker, Biobest product manager for beneficial insects.
“A generalist predator - and the first commercial brown lacewing in Europe - Micromus-System is set to become a cornerstone of aphid control programmes. At a time when the industry is looking to minimise use of chemical crop protection products, our new product will help strengthed biological control programmes for this ubiquitous pest.”
Both Micromus adults and larvae prey on aphids and are set to play a key role in protected vegetables, soft fruits, ornamentals and medicinal cannabis crops. Highly voracious, this robust predator lives longer, can withstand lower temperatures compared to other natural enemies and survives on little prey, opening up new possibilities in existing control programmes.
“While over 15 different aphid species can be found in protected crops, parasitic controls are often species specific,” explains Ines. “A robust predator, Micromus feeds on all the commonly found aphid species, even challenging ones for which there is currently no commercial parasitoid available.
“Micromus is complementary and compatible with existing solutions. To optimise control programmes, we recommend growers implement a strategy combining aphid parasitoids with generalist predators - such as Micromus.”
Micromus-System is supplied in Biobest’s new 100% biodegradable packaging. Designed to ensure the lacewings arrive in the best possible shape to optimise establishment, this new packaging also simplifies waste management - as it can be left in the crop after introduction.
While offering a host of customer benefits, our expanding range of innovative biodegradable product packaging is helping Biobest meet its circular use of materials – says Peter van Leent - sustainability manager. “Helping us reuse, recycle and utilise more biobased materials, our new sustainable packaging is set to play an important role helping us achieve our ultimate goal – to become carbon neutral.
“This sustainable packaging initiative also offers tangible practical and associated cost-benefits to customers - encompassing improvements in product performance and ease of use, as well as reductions in disposal costs.”
Removing single-use plastic bottles
The initial focus is to remove single-use plastic (SUP) bottles from our beneficial range.
“The first product chosen was Macrolophus-System,” explains Geert Geboers, who has responsibility for process improvements for specialist packaging. “The initial drive was to improve product efficacy through redesigning the packaging and, in the process, make it more sustainable.”
The redesigned Macrolophus-System 100% biodegradable cardboard carton, with removeable lid, was launched in 2021. Inside, honeycomb paper helps protect the delicate winged mirid bug, while a gel formulation provides water for the adults during transit.
“While growers welcomed the product performance improvements, we were pleasantly surprised that growers equally appreciated the sustainability angle,” says Geert.
New platform technology
This 100% compostable cardboard carton has become a ‘platform technology’, which will be adapted and adopted for a range of products – so far Orius-System, Feltiella-System and most recently Micromus-System.
“This 100% biodegradable carton aids growers’ disposal issues as it can simply be left in the crop and discarded, along with the plant material, at the end of the crop cycle,” explains Ines de Craecker, product manager for beneficials. “The redesigned packaging is also helping to optimise predator performance.”
Sustainable transportation boxes
To ensure consignments arrive with customers in optimal conditions, individual products are packed and dispatched in transportation cooler boxes.
“In the past we relied heavily on polystyrene,” explains Geert. “Highly practical, it is light and insulating, however, this polymer can be brittle and slow to degrade. We’ve therefore set about eliminating polystyrene from our supply chain.”
2022 saw the introduction of Biobest’s first small sustainable cardboard cooler; the outer, insulation and filler material made exclusively from recyclable cardboard. More practical for customers, the coolers are collapsible, therefore more convenient to store, and - unlike polystyrene - are widely, kerbside recyclable.
The team is now also turning its attention to replacing the larger polystyrene transportation cooler boxes with a recyclable cardboard alternative by the second quarter of 2023.
While the initial focus was Europe, our sustainable packaging initiative has been extended and now has global reach, with ‘best practice’ being shared with other Biobest production facilities and subsidiaries from North America to Australia.
Summing up Geert says: “our redesigned sustainable packaging offers ‘internal gains’ helping to lessen our impact on the planet. It’s also delivering tangible ‘user benefits’ – improving product quality and optimising control in the crop, making products easier to use and reducing costs associated with aspects such as the disposal of plastics.
“We’re experiencing real ‘pull’ from the marketplace, customers are keen for us to extend these innovations to other products in our extensive range.
“Sustainability is in our DNA, it’s at the heart of what we do – it’s what makes us Biobest.”
Offering fast and even distribution of beneficials in a wide range of glasshouse crops, Entomatic™ is a new adaptable automatic dispenser to help growers reduce labour costs and optimise control.
Available worldwide exclusively from Biobest, Entomatic™ is the result of a collaboration with Hortiworld, the Dutch-based producer of state-of-the-art Bio Bull horticultural equipment.
“Entomatic™ has been designed and engineered to deliver a very even, accurate and homogenous flow of mite products, such as Phytoseiulus-System, Amblyseius-System and Swirskii-System,” explains Hanne Steel, Biobest product portfolio manager for beneficials. “It can also play a valuable role dispensing suitable pupae and egg-based biocontrol products.
“Manually dispensing beneficials can be labour intensive and therefore time consuming and costly,” she says “A repetitive task, it requires high levels of focus, and it can be difficult to assess if the task has been performed well. To optimise biocontrol strategies and its effectiveness, it is important to get even distribution of beneficials throughout the crop.”
Having been approached by a north American strawberry grower keen to automate this process, HortiWorld set about designing and engineering a reliable solution. In 2020, at the prototype stage, the company approached Biobest and the two have collaborated to fine-tune and validate the Entomatic™ and bring it to market.
“Compared to other dispensers, Entomatic™ continuously and gently blows the mites on to the crop,” explains HortiWorld’s Rembrandt van Meegen. “By slowing down the air flow, more mites land on the leaves - where they are required – with minimal falling to the floor. The reservoir enables different products to be carried. When pre-mixed, an auger system provides continuous and homogenous supply to the dispensing points.
“A simple modular system, the machine is highly adaptable and can be configured to suit almost all glasshouse crops – soft fruit, protected salads and ornamentals - and any growing system,” he says. “We’ve designed it to be easy to configure and intuitive to use.
“Extensively trialled and tested, Entomatic™ can handle all common beneficial carrier materials – vermiculite, sawdust, bran and buck wheat husk. With no requirement for a pipe rail system, it can be mounted on a cart, tractor or spray equipment. All this adaptability brings benefits to us as manufacturers, Biobest as suppliers and growers as users,” he says.
“It can be challenging to schedule and co-ordinate sufficient crop workers to manually apply biocontrols coinciding with deliveries. With 2-16 dispensing points, the Entomatic™ can automatically dispense beneficials in up to 16 rows simultaneously. Depending on the number of dispensing points and row length, it has a dispensing capacity of up to 1,5 ha per hour.”
Summing up Hanne says: “while helping growers improve their labour efficiency, the Entomatic™ helps ensure the beneficials are dispensed evenly throughout the crop – a prerequisite of good biological control strategies.”
Biobest is one of the world's leading companies in the field of biological control of pests and diseases and natural pollination. In 1987, Biobest was the first company to put bumblebees on the market. Today, Biobest offers a complete selection of natural solutions on all continents such as beneficial insects, mites, bumblebees, nematodes, biopesticides, monitoring and scouting products and pheromones. Biobest provides growers with tailor-made advice. We focus on vegetables, ornamentals, soft fruits, plant propagation, herbs and medicinal cannabis.
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