Bierkreek Nursery is starting a project to grow container plants without neonicotinoids.
Bierkreek Nursery has a received a €340,000 grant from the Ministry of Economic Affairs to develop a method to grow container plants without the use of insecticides such as neonicotinoids. Among other things, neonicotinoids are responsible for the bee mortality issues in the world also known as Colony Collapse. During the next four years Bierkreek Nursery will work in collaboration with HAS Knowledge College on the project at the Bierkreek Nursery.
Aphids and natural enemies are inseparable
To be able to free the cultivation of container plants from insecticides the main things needed are changes in the design of the container area or container fields. Parasitic wasps lay their eggs inside an aphid, the larva eat the aphid from inside, causing it to die. A new wasp is born and almost immediately implants 300 new eggs in aphids.
But the hoverfly larvae, lacewing and ladybugs also eat hundreds of aphids a day. In recent years Bierkreek Nursery has shown aphids to be a food source for these insects. When the container field is designed in such a way that it is a paradise, with food and shelter, for adult hoverflys, sawflies and lacewings the container roses are well protected against aphid damage. Even more so for consequential damage by thrips, spider mites and other more unpleasant insects.
Students of the HAS are now investigating how this container area should look and will write a manual once that is ascertained. Meanwhile, a search is underway for other partners and growers who want to help develop with the system. They need not be biological companies like Bierkreek. The system also works on conventional farms.
A plant with aphids is a healthy plant
The consumer also has to change their opinions. In the future we hope via Bierkreek and the HAS, the customer will realize that a container plant they buy with aphids has a healthy eco-system and does not need to be sprayed against pests. This is because the natural enemies of the aphids are already present when they purchase the plant!
Call to growers, merchants and garden centers
Over the next four years the project is aimed at raising awareness among growers, traders, garden centers and consumers. Bierkreek Nursery is urgently looking for garden centers willing to address the challenge and growers willing to be innovative.
With four years, the intention is that garden centers offering roses, phlox, petunias and anything grown in containers are sold with aphids that are already infected by parasitic wasps.