Challenges and opportunities for biocontrol and organic farming

Biocontrol and organic farming face new challenges and opportunities as a result of the new European Green Deal

Laurence Gutierrez, Business Development Manager

Growing Academy: transference of knowledge on biocontrol and sustainable agriculture

Laurence Gutiérrez Giulianotti,

Business Development Manager, Certis Belchim BV., Branch Spain.

Biocontrol and organic farming face new challenges and opportunities as a result of the new European Green Deal concerning sustainability and the strategies approved by the EU Commission that arise from it, such as “From Farm to Fork” and Biodiversity. In addition, a new regulation on organic farming was published in February this year that will also have an impact on organic production.

At the end of 2019, the European Commission presented a proposal for a European Green Deal for all citizens of the European Union. The idea, in response to the destruction of the environment, was to express its commitment to the challenges posed by the climate emergency and to the proposal to make the continent climate neutral in the period from 2020 to 2050. In the field of agriculture and food, the European Green Deal foresees the need to devise a fair, healthy and environmentally friendly food system that will become the global standard of sustainability. The Deal gives a special role to organic farming thanks to the approval of specific strategies, including “Farm to Fork” and “Biodiversity”, that will reintegrate nature into our lives.

The “Farm to fork ” strategy, presented in May 2020 by the European Commission, includes the use of sustainable practices that aim to make 25% of agricultural production organic by 2030. The strategy includes a series of objectives that go beyond organic farming itself, to transform agricultural production systems. Among other objectives that are contemplated is the reduction of the use and risk of the most dangerous chemical pesticides by 50%, but also the improvement of production systems to obtain other benefits, such as a minimum of 20% reduction in the use of fertilizers and 50% reduction of nutrient losses with the aim of avoiding the leaching of nutritional surpluses applied to the crops into the aquifers.

The main changes that would affect farmers certified in organic production, would rely on the new European regulation for organic production (EU regulation 2018/848). This entered into force in February and introduces very relevant changes in organic production systems. One of the main improvements is the harmonization of organic standards, which will be mandatory for all countries of the European Union. In addition, this package of measures will be mandatory for farmers from outside the European Union when exporting their agricultural products with organic certification to Europe. To all this we must add that the new regulations will simplify the certification processes, allowing small farmers to obtain group certifications, thereby reducing the costs of certification and making it easier for farmers to transform their conventional production to organic without, for example, the need to form a cooperative.

In short, the new organic farming regulation will ensure fair competition between European farmers and those from third countries with harmonized standards for all. Prevention of fraud will be easier and it will increase consumer confidence.

What is Certis Belchim’s proposal for organic farming?

Certis Belchim has spent many years developing and registering its range of Biorational products of natural origin, which are effective in controlling pests and diseases. It now has more than 22 well-known brands recognized in organic farming, all of which have also passed the necessary controls for organic certification, making them available to farmers to be used with all guarantees in their organic crops and providing a guarantee of safety for the final consumer of fruit and vegetables.

This portfolio of more than 22 Biorational products (natural fungicides, bactericides, insecticides, nematicides and acaricides) registered as Plant Protection Products enables Certis Belchim B.V. to provide full solutions for organic farming. They are evaluated at EU and country level enabling the company to provide products that consumers can trust and that are safe for humans and the environment. In addition, under the umbrella of our project Growing For The Future, we have established the “Growing Academy” to facilitate the transfer of technology and knowledge on the use of biorationals.

The Growing Academy has been made possible thanks to the excellent contributions of experts from Universities and R&D institutions to support our training workshops, as well as the transfer of knowledge from our own staff relating to the applied science for the use of microorganisms. These include biological fungicides:

  • Amylo-X® (Bacillus amyloliquefaciens strain D747) – water dispersible granule formulation applied by foliar spraying to control foliar diseases;
  • Valcure® (Bacillus amyloliquefaciens strain D747) – liquid formulation applied by drip irrigation to control soil diseases;
  • Tri-Soil® (Trichoderma atroviride strain I-1237) – to control soil diseases;
  • Vintec® (Trichoderma atroviride strain SC1) – developed to control foliar diseases;

and biological insecticides:

  • Botanigard® OD and Botanigard® 22WP, both formulated with the Beauveria bassiana strain GHA to control a broad range of insects including aphids, white flies, mites and thrips.

The “Growing Academy” also includes the control of lepidoptera with our products based on microorganisms:

  • Turex® (Bacillus thuringiensis aizawai strain Gc-91)
  • Delfin® (Bacillus thuringiensis kurstaki strain SA-11)

and other biocontrol products based on natural extracts, including bio-insecticides:

  • Neudosan®, based on fatty acids potassium salts;
  • Majestic®, Sonar® and Eradicoat® Max, based on maltodextrin with insecticidal and acaricidal activity;
  • Breaker® Max, based on natural pyrethrum extracts to control aphids, white flies, bugs and flies.

In addition, our workshops cover the transfer of knowledge on mating disruption pheromones based on our Cidetrak® range of products to lower the pest pressure of lepidoptera in various orchards.

Finally, the “Growing Academy” shares knowledge on best practice with ferric phosphate baits to control snails and slugs with products like Iroxx®, Sluxx® HP and Minixx®.

How is Certis Belchim different from other companies in organic farming?

Our company project “Growing For The Future” has been developed to provide complete crop program solutions to agricultural stakeholders and technical support to enable our growers to respond to the demand from the food chain and consumers for food safety, not just on Integrated Pest Management (IPM) requirements, but also to provide complete programs to growers producing fruits and vegetables with biocontrol products that are registered as plant protection products from natural sources as well as being certified for use in organic farming. Therefore, Certis Belchim B.V. has evolved in the last five years and is capable of providing, not only support and knowledge on IPM, but also biocontrol products and programs to support production of 100% organic fruits and vegetables.

In summary, Certis Belchim B.V. provides complete solutions that go beyond the traditional distribution channel, working together with the growers and producers to develop new crop programs to achieve the objectives established by the EU Commission “Farm To Fork strategy”, as well as the increasing demand from consumers for food safety derived from traditional IPM improved with biocontrol, and the organic production requested by one segment within the consumer population. This has been achieved thanks to our own project “Growing For The Future” and other initiatives like the “Growing Academy” that surpass traditional trading practices for plant protection products, offering innovation and new solutions to our market, in cooperation with the end users. Our ultimate goal is to achieve top quality production, with profitability for the farmer and guaranteed food safety for the consumer.

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