Growers could soon have a year-round integrated control strategy for soft-fruit pest spotted wing drosophila (SWD) thanks to a new AHDB-funded research programme.
The four-year programme, led by NIAB EMR, will build on an initial research project that identified that SWD cannot be controlled by one method alone. It found that future control will rely on an integrated approach using biological and novel methods, while reducing populations in and around crops.
It will investigate the use of repellents and attract and kill strategies, along with bait sprays for control, use of exclusion netting, and studies to prolong spray intervals to reduce spray applications while maximising their effect.
In addition, the programme will continue the national monitoring of pest populations in England and Scotland, with the aim of increasing the understanding of habitat preferences.
The research findings will be used to design an effective year-round strategy for UK crops.
Grower Marion Regan, of Hugh Lowe Farms, said: “Spotted wing drosophila remains the most serious threat to the soft and stonefruit industry that we have encountered in my lifetime.
“A concerted industry effort has gone into research since the pest was identified in 2012 and we have learned a great deal about the pest’s behaviour in the UK and the best control options currently available.
“It is essential however that AHDB continues to use grower levy money to extend our quest to develop new and improved control techniques.”
Dr Rachel McGauley, crop production systems scientist at AHDB, said: “This project will use the findings we have made from the initial research project which finished in March this year to develop several novel management strategies which can be integrated with traditional control methods.
“Ultimately the aim is to provide growers with a wide range of control methods which will ensure the long-term viability of soft and stone fruit production, in spite of the continuing presence of SWD.”
AHDB has recently published a new factsheet offering guidance on SWD, including the latest best practice knowledge and results from the industry-funded research project SF 145, which concluded in March 2017.