Ground-breaking new biochemical control agents which could help cut the cost of pest control in UK forests are being trialled in the uplands of Wales in one of the most comprehensive scientific studies to date.
Swansea University spin-out business, Bionema, is developing new products which are already proving to increase kill rates of damaging insects in the laboratory.
Now the West Wales based innovator, working with Natural Resources Wales, is carrying out full scale trials in mid Wales to assess just how effective they are in real life - by comparing their cocktail of natural ingredients with 14 other similar products and their combinations.
The award winning business’s latest research has already shown that mixtures of fungi, nematodes and other control agents, can increase efficiency of using natural products by up to 40 per cent - and cut costs by 15-20 per cent.
“Foresters have been using these natural products to replace potentially harmful chemicals in the Welsh forests for some time.
"The problem is that in some cases they seem to have reduced effectiveness in comparison with the more traditional methods,” says Bionema founder and managing director, Dr Minshad Ansari.
“But our new product is performing well and the first results of the trial are pointing to a big improvement in pest control, which means increased profits and longer term benefits.
“Part of the key to the success is in the way these living organisms are managed, something we stress in new training programmes we have developed for the best use of safe, residue free biochemicals.
“The use of natural organisms to control pests on strawberries and other soft fruit crops instead of chemical pesticides reduces the risk of harmful chemical residues finding their way on to the plate or bowl,” he added.
“In the forests of Wales replacing these potentially dangerous chemicals with natural products completely solves the problem of pesticides finding their way into watercourses and causing other environmental impacts," he added.
“We are developing an exciting range of new products which will be available to meet the expected market demand brought about by legislative changes which are coming through shortly in the horticultural sector.”