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Application of trichogramma by drone an economical and effective solution for controlling the european corn borer

Published on: | Created by: Roxanne S. Bernard

Tags: corn, drone, trichogramma

Trichogramma dropping by drone

Trichogramma : the specialty of Anatis Bioprotection

Portrait of Mylène St-OngeMylène St-Onge is the Research Manager of the insects Division at Anatis Bioprotection. She holds a Ph.D in Biology from Quebec University (Montreal) and has dedicated several years of hard work to optimize the mass production of Trichogramma. This little insect is a wasp capable of parasitizing butterfly eggs. At present and thanks to Mylène expertise, Anatis Bioprotection produce three species of Trichogramma wasp, Trichogramma ostriniae, T. brassicae et T. Minutum. Every year, millions of wasps are weekly distributed by Anatis Bioprotection to protect Canadian crops against butterfly pests.

Significant accomplishments with Trichogramma in Quebec

  • 1995 — First Quebecers tests of Trichogramma brassica against corn borer (Ostrinia nubilalis) carried out by Guy Boivin from Agriculture Canada.
  • 1996 — Frist Trichogramma commercialized in Quebec by the company Bio-Control. Then closed and subsequently reopened by Beneficial insectory 2001.
  • 2000 — Research carried out by IRDA1 and l’UQAM2 to optimize the use of Trichogramma against corn borer.
  • 2003 — Early marketing of Trichogramma in Quebec by the company Para-Bio.
  • 2007Trichogramma ostriniae was selected as the most efficient control agent against European corn borer according to studies performed by IRDA, UQAM and Anatis Bioprotection.
  • 2008 — Early stage of rearing and marketing of Trichogramma by Anatis Bioprotection.
  • 2016 — 10% of sweet corn are protected by Trichogramma wasps.

1Institut de recherche et de développement en agroenvironnement, 2Université du Québec à Montréal

Trichogramma cards

Trichogramma card for sweet cornIn Quebec Trichogramma wasps is introduced in the fields using cards. Depending on the pressure exerted by the pest, the number of Trichogramma pupae contained in each card can vary between 4000 and 8000. Product’s application starts at stade 4 to 6 leaves or once the pest is detected in the region. Cards are manually introduced into the crop. One card covers an area of 100-200 m2. In general, 5 applications are enough to control the pest during the season.

Advantages and Limitation of cards

Trichogramma cards are eco-friendly and no equipment or biosafety measures are required. This represents a simple method that can be carried all along the day at any weather condition (windy, rainy, etc). Additionally, the use of soil machinery can be reduced preserving soil’s health. Finally, Trichogramma may add extra value to sweet corn by reducing the application of insecticides which represents a health risk for consumers who are becoming increasingly sensitive to chemical pesticides.

On the other hand, limitations are found when large areas are treated. It is required between 30 min to 1 hour to cover one hectare. Hence, some producers may not be capable of treating the entire field.

Spraying drone: the technology of the future?

This technology is already used in some European countries mainly France, Germany, Italy, and Switzerland on cereal crop. It is being also developed in Australia.

In 2016 the Quebecer company Canopée decides to develop in Canada a method for Trichogramma-spraying drone. Fascinated by this idea, Canopée owners Frédéric Jean and Alexandre Maltais, contacted Anatis Bioprotection team and that’s how a new partnership began.

Several challenges were found during the creation of the application method. Our working team in collaboration with l’ÉTS explored different possibilities. After some tests, two application methods were chosen: Pupae of Trichogramma in bulk (on vermiculite) and capsule-form. The first method (vermiculite) is cheaper, but the pupae are less protected to predation. The second method (capsule), in fact protect the pupae, nonetheless, they are more expensive to produce.

First results of Trichogramma-Spraying drone

Field-tests were performed in 2016 on 3 different farms (Agri-Fusion, Jardins PurDélys and la ferme Maxime Bissonnette) thanks to the assistance of the agronomists Gerardo Gollo Gil and Olivier Marois-Mainguy of MAPAQ at Ste-Martine

The team applied the Trichogramma in bulk and capsules. Then, Trichogramma wasps survival was evaluated based on three parameters: introducing sentinel eggs, looking for eggs of European corn borer and the evaluation of damages at harvesting period.

These tests allowed to validate the application technique with capsules and bulk. Trichogramma could survive the fall and successfully grew and developed in the crops. However, the number of borers was not enough to prove the efficacy of both treatments.

Test in 2017

Anatis Bioprotection and Canopée will continue with the tests of Spraying drone. The technique requires to be evaluated and validated when heavy-pest.

«The efficacy of Trichogramma in the control of corn borer is well-known, therefore is reasonable to think that Trichogramma-spraying drone will be of equal efficacy. », explains Mylène St-Onge.

To be continued...

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