Plants that grow in their natural environment face threats such as insects, fungi, bacteria and viruses. By growing these plants in a controlled environment like a greenhouse, it is inevitable that those threats will also enter the greenhouse with the plants; they grow many times faster than outdoors.
The plants therefore also need protection indoors. Spraying chemicals was the traditional method of crop protection. In the beginning the results of spraying were very good. Then awareness grew about the side effects of chemicals such as resistance and the undesired effects on the environment and human health. So instead of spraying as the main tool for crop protection, spraying has become part of a new approach: integrated pest management.
IPM and benificial insects
The development of using beneficial insects that can kill and eat the harmful insects was a major step forward in reducing the chemicals needed. The use of beneficial insects requires a different approach to crop protection strategy. Beneficial insects cannot survive without food, so there must always be a balance between beneficial and harmful insects. In addition, it is essential that the products used to control other pests, such as fungi, do not harm the beneficial insects. The spray products used in the IPM approach should therefore be gentle and preferably organic.
To get a comparably good result with these products, the spraying technique needs to be improved.
Good, modern and reliable crop protection products are actually a yield insurance.
Insects and fungi have an enormous multiplication power. The infestation can double in size within days and reduce yield or crop quality. Depending on the crop, this decrease can be between 1 and even 10%. In currency: between 1 and 10 euros/m1. That is up to €500,000 for a 5 ha greenhouse.
Modern, well-functioning crop protection products in combination with a good IPM therefore have a very short Return on Investment.