5 Sep 2013

New funding for bio-pest research

9:24 pm on 5 September 2013

Scientists from AgResearch, Plant and Food Research and Lincoln University are on the hunt for new bio-pesticides to target pests and diseases damaging farming and horticulture.

The research team in the Bio-Protection Research Centre based at Lincoln has won further government funding of almost $11 million.

Project leader Dr Maureen O'Callaghan of AgResearch says it aims to build on earlier break-throughs in finding non-chemical ways of controlling pests and diseases such as Psa in kiwifruit, by using micro-organisms in a new generation of pesticides.

Dr O'Callaghan says the team is focussing on some of the worst pests and diseases identified by the pastoral, arable and horticultural industries.

In the pastoral sector, Dr O'Callaghan says the African Black Beetle is particularly devastating pest and difficult to control which threatens the dairy industry.

Likewise she says, the diamond black moth is a pest for brassica growers which the research team is looking to target.

Dr O'Callaghan says one of the challenges is overcoming the perception that bio-pesticides aren't as good as chemicals. She says new generation natural pesticides are just as effective and don't carry residues.