PHERA partner NovAgrica Hellas experiments with new methods of applying pheromone solutions for pest control in field crops.
Pheromones for Row Crop Applications (PHERA) is an EU-funded project pulling together some of the leading players in biologically based pest control. The project’s objective is to develop radically cheaper pheromones that finally will allow farmers of row crops to use Mating Disruption to control pests.
Pheromones are traditionally released from stationary dispensers, but NovAgrica Hellas is also developing flowable suspensions that adhere to plants and are endowed with special characteristics to protect the labile pheromone molecules and control their release. Most importantly, they can be distributed by drone, explains NovAgrica Hellas Head of R&D and Co-founder Dimitris Raptopoulos.
“There is a huge push towards making agriculture sustainable, but short of going backwards in terms of agricultural intensity, we need new technologies to drive the development forward, and drones are without doubt one of these exciting technologies,” he says.
There are several advantages to using a drone. It is faster, cheaper and less weather-sensitive than manual application and more environmentally friendly than mechanic sprayers. In fact, drones are already revolutionising the application of conventional pesticides. Building on advances in camera and GPS technologies for identification and treatment of weeds and pests in a field, drones are seen as part and parcel of precision agriculture in the future.
NovAgrica has now tested pheromone for control of cotton bollworm applied by drone in cotton in Central Greece (picture). The trial demonstrated that pheromone is superior at controlling the cotton bollworm compared to the control plot. Equally, if not more important, considering PHERA’s mandate, biological pheromone proved as efficient as its synthetic counterpart in doing so.