- Golf and Turf
- Lawn Care and Residential
- Animal Health
- Pest Control
- Public Health/Vector Control
- Forestry Health
Golf and Turf
A healthy, fertile soil system is the key to protecting professional turf fields. Many superintendents and turf managers rely on both conventional and biological inputs to keep their fields green. While beneficial microbes have been used in soil health programs for many years, including mycorrhizae and bacillus species, there are also many solutions for biologicals in turf and golf course management.
The most commonly used biocontrol strategies in turf care involve the use of beneficial microbes in conjunction with chemical fungicides. When brown patch, dollar spot and other turf diseases arise, turf managers can apply microbial biofungicides as a natural way to extend or augment the efficacy of conventional methods. This method of application is a more sustainable practice while also helping fight chemical resistance in the disease target.
Some typical biological options in turf and sports field management include:
- Microbes – Examples include Trichoderma harzianum, Bacillus firmus, and Metarhizium anisopliae. Registered microbes have broad spectrums that include common insect, nematode, and disease pests for turf management.
- Biostimulants – Examples include mycorrhizae, bacillus sp. and micronutrients. Many natural biostimulant products help promote healthy root growth, thatch reduction, and a healthier soil ecosystem for lusher, greener fields.
- Beneficial nematodes – Examples include Heterorhabditis bacteriophora and Steinernema riobrave. These live and natural predators can kill select insects or greatly reduce pest populations in turfgrass.
Lawn Care and Residential
A healthy, green, lush lawn is quintessentially American. With more than 80% of U.S. households owning a private lawn, there is an enormous amount of time, effort, and inputs needed to maintain a nice yard. In addition, households must keep up with their private gardens, shrubs, trees, and overall landscapes. According to a Kline & Company study, consumers spend well over $40 billion a year for lawn and landscaping maintenance.
Chemical fertilizers, weedkillers and other important lawn and garden inputs have been used for years in residential lawns and landscapes. Over the past decade, naturally derived biological options for residential use have been made more available to the retail consumer in the garden center and online.
Organic lawncare services, beneficial insects, and compost are just a few of the solutions that have evolved to be more accessible to consumers across the country in conjunction with conventional methods. There are many opportunities for the consumer to use what the professional grower uses when it comes to suppressing and controlling pests and diseases in their outdoor space. Some of the typical residential products offered in the lawn and garden market include:
- Botanicals – Examples include azadirachtin, (neem), neem oil, pyrethrin, and other soaps, oils, and extracts. These natural products help disrupt the insect’s nervous system and its ability to function.
- Beneficial insects – Examples include ladybugs, predatory mites, and beneficial nematodes. These live and natural predators can kill select insects or greatly reduce pest populations.
- Microbes – Examples include Trichoderma harzianum, Bacillus thuringiensis, Beauveria bassiana, Bacillus subtilis. Often labeled and regulated as fungicides and insecticides, beneficial microbes have broad spectrums that include common insect and disease pests for homeowners. Many of these products are professional products labeled and approved for residential use (but in smaller packages).
Greenhouse and Ornamentals
This is a broad market segment including technologies for plant health in greenhouse, nursery, and field production It is comprised of many horticultural crops including annual bedding plants, herbaceous perennials, foliage plants, shrubs, trees, and greenhouse vegetables. Greenhouses may be used for plant propagation only or from start to finish for crop production. High tunnels, hoop houses, and shade houses may be used during part of or for the entire growing season to protect crops from weather and external elements. Plants may be grown in containers (e.g., pots or trays) or directly in the field as in the case of ornamentals, fruit trees, and shrubs. Biological products in this segment are typically used by growers and professional landscapers because of their proven efficacy and safety.
Biologicals offer many advantages compared to other technologies used in greenhouses and nurseries. They are easily integrated into production systems requiring minimal if any additional application technology. They pose little or no risk to human health or the environment. They are cost effective.
The most common biological products used in greenhouse and ornamental production are the biochemical and the microbial biologicals. Biochemical products are based on plant extracts, inorganic compounds, and organic compounds. Additionally, beneficial insects and beneficial nematodes are playing a larger role in IPM for the greenhouse grower. Nature has provided a wide range of natural predators and many companies have scaled up and provided targeted species for the modern-day grower. Predatory mites, assassin bugs, and microscopic worms are just a few examples of how insects are intentionally produced, marketed, shipped, and then released into a grower’s greenhouse environment to suppress and control invasive pest populations.
Microbial biologicals based on bacteria, fungi, and specific viruses include:
- Bacillus thuringiensis
- Bacillus subtilis, B. amyloliquifasciens, Bacillus mycoides
- Beauveria bassiana
- Isaria fumosorosea
- Metarhizium anisopliae
- Paecilomyces lilacinus
- Trichoderma spp.
- Gliocladium virens
- Spodoptera exigua
Plant extracts may include the following:
- Neem oil
- Copper octanoate
- Peroxyacetic acid
- Fatty acidsalts or soaps,g. insecticidal soap
- Polyoxin D zinc salt
- Potassiumor sodium bicarbonate
- Potassium silicate
- Iron phosphate
Beneficial insects and beneficial nematodes include:
- Predatory mites (ex. Ambylseius swirskii, Phytoseiulus persimilis)
- Assassin bugs (ex. Zelus renardii)
- Green Lacewings (Chrysoperla rufilabris)
- Ladybugs (Hippodamia convergens)
- Beneficial Nematodes (ex. Steinernema feltiae, Steinernema carpocapsae)
Products are used for control of insects and diseases such as:
- Chewing insect pests
- Sucking insect pests
- Plant disease vectors
- Fungal diseases
- Bacterial diseases
Biologicals are a growing participant in the animal health arena. Animal health includes the control of insects, larva, and fungus in cattle, equine, poultry, and companion animals (dogs and cats). The pest impact can be significant. Insects alone can cause significant livestock yield losses that exceed $3 billion annually. Pest control can be accomplished by external applications directly to the animal or its habitat, or the control mechanism can also be applied via feed-through ingredients. Premise sprays to control pests in animal dwellings or natural grazing areas are also included as a part of the animal health market.
There is growing pressure, especially in the beef and poultry market, to produce meat products that have less pesticide contact and lower chemical residues. Organic, No Hormones Added, Natural, Antibiotic Free, and Free Range are labels that the restaurant industry and consumers readily identify and prefer when they purchase a meat or dairy product. In an integrated pest management program, the use of biologicals can help the producers meet these consumer demands while having minimal impact on the livestock, as well as on the fish, bees, and other wildlife.
Companion animal owners consider their animals as part of the family and are looking for care alternatives that will not affect the health of their pet, nor risk contact with other family members. Biologicals offer a solution to those who are seeking a more friendly and sustainable environment for their families and pets.
Some of the more commonly used animal biologicals include:
- Methoprene. This is an insect growth regulator (IGR) and interferes with insect growth and development which prevents normal molting, egg laying, egg hatching, and development from the immature phase. It comes in several formulations including dusts, granules, ready-to-use liquids, pressurized sprays, and in flea collars. Methoprene is commonly found in flea treatments for dogs and cats, in cattle feed to control flies, and in mosquito control products. It is also used in insect baits and home insect sprays.
- Fatty acid actives and soaps. These products are used directly on livestock and large animals to repel insects and can also be use as a premise spray in and around livestock dwellings.
- Pyrethrum extract. This is a botanical, non-systemic insecticide that controls a broad spectrum of insects. Pyrethrins, the active ingredient found in pyrethrum, degrade in sunlight and will not persist in the environment. Many pyrethrum-based products can be applied directly to livestock or their premises, or used as space sprays. One of the few OMRI-listed products for organically produced meat and milk contains pyrethrins. It is the preferred active ingredient for fly control on horses and is also used on dogs and cats as flea and tick shampoos, dips and sprays.
The trend toward biologically derived pest management solutions continues to rise. Consumers are seeking products that are less harmful to the people who inhabit a dwelling with structural and nuisance pests. These pests can cause damage to dwellings including destruction to wood, wire, and pipes that can lead to weakened structures, house fires, and water leaks if not addressed. Protecting a property investment is one key reason that many choose to seek remediation of these types of pests.
Another category is nuisance pest control options. Nusiance pests include ants, silverfish, spiders, and box elder bugs. Often these pests are seeking refuge from hostile enivornmental conditions and invade buildings for refuge.
Some biological products used for protection from these types of pests include:
- Citronella beeswax and soy candles for mosquito repellent
- Plant oils:
- A cottonseed and clove oil combination can be found in consumer botanical instecicide solutions for ant control.
- Orange peel extract as a control for ants, including fire ants. It dissolves the waxy exoskeleton and clogs the spiracles that enable them to breathe.
- Castor oil as a mole repellent for moles, gophers, and other burrowing animals.
- Diatomaceous earth, an odorless white powder derived from finely milled fossilized shells of organisms called diatoms. This product is often used for indoor and outdoor control of pests such as ants, crickets, fleas, beetles, and cockroaches.
- Several bait products that contain spinosad, an insecticide derived naturally by fermentation of Saccharopolyspora spinosa. These are also being used to control ants, sow bugs, pillbugs, crickets and earwigs.
Public Health/Vector Control
Public Health includes control of disease-vectoring and nuisance insects by abatement agencies around the world. Proper use of Integrated Vector Management (IVM) programs improve human health by reducing populations of mosquito species, such as Aedes aegypti, Aedes albopictus and Culex spp., that have the capacity to transmit Chikungunya, Dengue Fever, Rift Valley Fever, Yellow Fever, and Zika. The World Health Organization (WHO) states that mosquitos cause millions of deaths every year; in 2015, malaria alone claimed 438,000 lives. Through protective measures and the adoption of an IVM programmed approach, many lives are spared.
Today, biological solutions offer active ingredients that are not harmful to the people they protect through formulations that are versatile in application. Biological larvicides are commonly applied direct to the conducive environment for mosquito oviposition, as well as by Wide-Area Spraying (WAS), where a product is applied aerially or by backpack in areas where mosquito larval habitats are cryptic and large scale.
Examples of the biological products used for protection of Public Heath include:
- Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (strain AM65-52). This is often used in aerial applications to control mosquito larve. Although this active ingredient is highly toxic to certain species of larvae, it is not harmful to non-target organisms.
- Deltamethrin. Physical barriers treated with biological insecticides serve to assist with the reduction of vector transmitted diseases. The WHO recommends products like Deltramethrin, a synthetically produced insecticide based structurally on natural pyrethrins, to be used as an insecticide in mosquito netting for improved vector control.
In North America, the wide spread of the gypsy moth, Lymantria dispar, resulted in 488,649 hectares of defoliated forests in 2010 alone. Effective conventional and biological solutions have been identified to combat the spread of pests like the gypsy moth that cause widespread deforestation. In addition, the U.S. Forest Service promotes the use of natural agents like insect parasitoids and predators, small mammals, and birds as predators, as well as viruses and fungi known to cause mortality for gyspy moth populations. The Forest Health Protection (FHP) Program was created to develop a strong international effort for forest health. The FHP Program has one of its four stated goals that biological control options are in place to protect U.S. forests from pests.
Some of the biological products used for Forestry Health include:
- Bacillus thuringiensis kurstaki (strain ABTS-351). This is a naturally occurring bacterium that affects only caterpillars that when ingested, is toxic to catepillars and leads to death within two days. This active ingredient has minimal environmental impact and will not harm other types of insects, fish, birds, or mammals.
- Nucleopolyhedrosis virus (NPV) is a naturally occurring virus highly selective to gypsy moth. The virus is ingested, then destroys the internal organs of the insect. These applications have been noted to be highly effective against small gypsy moth caterpillars.