Category: News
Date published: January 06, 2021

Licence permits release of Koppert Swirski Mite® in polytunnels in England

New DEFRA licence permits the release of Koppert Swirski Mite® in polythene tunnels in England

Koppert can announce the launch of a suite of products aimed at improving the robustness of IPM programmes in strawberry crops grown under polythene tunnels. The new developments have centred around the control of various species of thrips especially the Western Flower thrips, Frankliniella occidentalis, but also provide good activity against whiteflies and spider mites. The products will be available from the start of the 2021 season.

Central to Koppert’s new product announcements is the acquisition of a new release licence for Swirski Mite®, issued by DEFRA in November 2020. Until now, Swirski Mite® has been licensed in England for use only in glasshouses, not polythene tunnels. The new licence will now permit the release of Koppert Swirski Mite® in England, in both edible and ornamental crops grown under polythene structures. The licence was granted following the submission of the necessary data, gathered by the Koppert consultancy team. Ultimately, this positive outcome was made possible by the participating strawberry growers who hosted the trials on their farms. Swirski Mite® contains the predatory mite Amblyseius swirskii. For Scotland and the Republic of Ireland, A. swirskii has always been permitted for use under glass and polythene. However, for Wales, Northern Ireland and the Channel Islands, the restricted use to glasshouses still remains.

“We have been working with DEFRA and a number of commercial strawberry growers, over the past few years, to secure the data to support the revised Swirski licence application,” commented Karen Girard, Koppert UK’s Registration Manager. Karen added, “Koppert would like to thank the host farms R. and V. Emery, Romsey, B. R. Brooks and Son, Faversham, and New Forest Fruit Company, Brokenhurst, for allowing Koppert to carry out this work on their farms. We would also like to express our gratitude to DEFRA for granting us the opportunity to offer this important biocontrol agent more widely.” Sandy Booth, owner and Managing Director of the New Forest Fruit Company said he was happy to support the Koppert Swirski trials and delighted to hear that the Swirski licence extension has been approved. “This means we will have another biological control product in our armory, which will help us to reduce pesticide applications, and maintain our reputation of supplying first class fruit to our customers,” commented Sandy.

“This news is really important for strawberry growers who will benefit from the new Swirski licence as soon as the 2021 season gets underway,” explained Jasper Hubert, Senior Strawberry Consultant for Koppert UK. “Finally, tunnel-grown crops can be treated with a predatory mite which delivers higher levels of activity against various thrips species that pose a risk to UK tunnel crops every year. It can also provide a good defence against whitefly, a pest which has been increasing in tunnel strawberry crops in recent years.” Koppert has gained many years of experience with Swirski Mite® in various glasshouse crops since launching the product in 2007. “During this time, the use of Swirski Mite® has increased significantly in glasshouse crops, which is testament to its strong performance as a predatory mite,” added Jasper.

As growers start to plan for the new season, Koppert can also announce the introduction of their bulk Andersoni® product, which contains the predatory mite Amblyseius andersoni. “Our trials have demonstrated that the Koppert product has useful activity against thrips, whitefly and spider mites, and provides a good starting point to the strawberry IPM programme when spring temperatures are relatively low,” explained Adrian Jackson, Koppert Consultant for the Midlands. “From a technical perspective there is a strong justification for positioning Andersoni® at the beginning and at the end of the season when cooler conditions prevail, with Swirski Mite® being used during the warmer months from May to August,” explained Jasper. “This will result in a much stronger IPM programme compared to the current approach which relies heavily on the less efficient predator Neoseiulus cucumeris,” he added. Koppert product development trials have shown that Andersoni® is particularly effective against thrips and whiteflies, but will also feed on the two-spotted spider mite, Tetranychus urticae.

Koppert is also able to announce that the long-standing product Thripex® has been re-branded as Thripex NXT due to an innovative formulation change.

David Foster, General Manager for Koppert UK, is looking to build on another successful year, by delivering some new and innovative products to the strawberry sector. “Not only do we have three new products in Andersoni®, Thripex NXT® and Swirski Mite®, we have also developed the Natutec Drive®, which can be used to apply all three products in strawberry tunnels, with a high degree of efficiency and accuracy.” The Natutec Drive® is a patented system, attached to a custom-made vehicle, which is driven between the table-tops in the strawberry production tunnels. The basic system works on a revolving 60 litre drum, which dispenses the predators and carrier material into a hopper, and onwards, via several delivery tubes, to the crop canopy. The application process is controlled from a touch-screen inside the tractor cab, by simply selecting the product name and the rate of application required. “This is a first-class piece of machinery, which exemplifies our superiority in the field of biocontrol-related innovations,” explained David. As well as the three predators mentioned, the device can be used for the application of Spidex®, and based on recent product development studies, this list is likely to increase in the near future.