Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a system of pest management that incorporates preventive cultural, mechanical, physical, biological and chemical controls in a compatible manner to keep pest populations below economically harmful levels.
This is a journey that started out of necessity for Flamingo Horticulture as it was increasingly facing market pressure to reduce on the use of pesticides on its horticultural produce. Concerns about food safety also played a part in the decision to start Dudutech in 2001 to address these challenges in-house. Dudutech has grown in the last 18 years to become a leader in integrated pest management in Africa.
“We are the pioneers in Kenya and it was hard to convince people, we had to do a lot education, a lot of training, a lot of trials to convince farmers because people were doing it the conventional way using a lot of chemicals” says Catherine Gacheri, the Sales Manager for East and Southern Africa at Dudutech.
The key objectives of IPM are economic viability, social acceptability and minimal risk to human health and the environment. Dudutech supplies zero residue biological control products for environmentally intelligent farming. The company is a charter member of BioProtection Global (BPG), a worldwide federation of biocontrol and biopesticides industry associations. On 1 January 2018, Dudutech MD, Tom Mason, took up the role of BPG President.
Dudutech has three production sites, 14 hectares of outdoor insect production, two dedicated indoor insectaries, and state of the art fungus and nematode production facilities. The outdoor insect production sites are based around the equator which provides climates for year round growing conditions.
There are various facets of integrated pest management (IPM) available. These are genetic, biological, cultural, physical, mechanical and chemical.
Genetic is all about identifying and using seeds and plants that are pest resistant. The biological method involves using predatory organisms to attack the pests. This includes introducing, preserving, predator, parasites or diseases of pests
The cultural method combines several practices for either crops or the environment. For crops you can rotate them, change planting time, harvesting time, row width, distance between plants, tilling and mulching. For the environment, you can keep it clean and free of weeds.
Mechanical methods are the use of blue screens and other screens that attract the pests and have glue on them so the pests get stuck and starve to death. Physical methods involve the use of traps.
Chemical is the use of pesticides. IPM as a policy promotes the application of the least toxic-class 4, shortest duration pesticide available and that will be targeted to the specific pest to be eliminated. Chemicals should be the last option if all the other methods have failed or if none of them can be used.
The following steps are followed in the general practice of IPM. The first step is to identify the various pests, their hosts and beneficial organisms before embarking on any mitigation efforts. The second step is establishing standard monitoring guidelines for every pest. The third step is to establish an action threshold that must be met for the pest control methods to be initiated. After this threshold has been reached, you evaluate and implement control measures. The last step is to monitor, evaluate and document the results and adjust accordingly where the results are not satisfactory.
Dudutech has varieties of biological controls for pest management. The following are some of their biological control and enhancement methods for red spider mites, thrips and soil health.
In management of red spider mite, Dudutech uses PHYTOTECH® (Phytoseiulus persimilis) that feeds on the pests’ eggs, nymphs and adults; also AMBLYTECH® (Amblyseius neoseilus) that sucks the spider mites dry.
Thrips on the other hand have a complex lifecycle as they lay eggs inside the plant tissue hence they are protected against any control measure. Eggs hatch into nymphal stages which remains protected in the flower buds and foliage terminals. Towards the end of 2nd nymphal stage, they drop into the soil/ growing medium to pupate. Control is done at larva stage using a predatory mite AMBLYTECH® (Amblyseius cucumeris). Another predatory mite HYPOTECH® (Hypoaspis miles) feeds on the pupal stages in the soil/growing medium. Also in management of the pupal stage an entomopathogenic nematode NEMATECH S® (Steinernema feltiae) can be used. For management of adults and juvenile stages, Dudutech uses an entomopathogenic fungus BEAUVITECH® (Beauvitech bassiana) which kills adult pests through tissue invasion and toxin release. Mass trapping using blue sticky cards/ roller traps can also be used to reduce the thrips populations. The trapping can be enhanced by use of sex aggregation pheromone lures that increases the number of thrips adults captured on the traps.
For Soil management, Dudutech uses TRICHOTECH® (Trichoderma asperellum). It is an antagonistic fungi that grows and establishes around the root zone and protects the plant against plant pathogenic fungi. To manage plant parasitic nematodes they use MYTECH® (Paecilomyces lilacinus) and NEMGUARD® (Allicin and Polysulphides). It is a powerful formulated garlic concentrate which encourages root development and repair, and protects against nematode and insect species.
“We’ve witness a tremendous growth in adoption of IPM techniques by Kenyan growers. We no longer have to explain the concept to them as they are now much ahead both in knowledge and practical application of the IPM strategies. “ says Catherine as she reflects on the journey to where they are now.
Europe has said no to a lot of pesticides and this has really advanced IPM locally. “IPM is strong in the big farms that export their produce, because the growers have no choice but to comply, but now going forward I can also see it growing for local markets as Kenyan are also slowly starting to understand the effects of pesticides to their health” says Catherine about the future of IPM.
“The future is IPM, everyone is like this is the way to go, but as the local market we are laggards, we don’t care what we eat, somebody will spray their tomatoes today and sell them tomorrow, yet they have sprayed very toxic substances, and sometimes you can even see the residue on the produce, no one regulates what we eat” says a concerned Catherine.
“As the awareness grows, we have started to see people that are really getting conscious about what they eat, people are starting to care about cancer, about food safety and about their health” she continues to say. “If I was in policy-making, it would be like Europe where food safety is government-driven; I would start by banning the toxic chemicals (class 1) from the market and then develop policies that encourage adoption of IPM practices, promoting and rewarding good practices and taking action when farmers flaunt the rules.” she concludes