Integrated Pest Management on strawberries
Farming – like every other occupation comes with its challenges. If it is not the weather, market prices or water shortages, it is pests.
Pest and Disease control
Nosiphiwo Sogiba, our agriculture Pest and Disease Manager, scouts the fields row by row daily. She checks for pests, soil moisture, disease, and other variables that will have a negative impact on our strawberry plants. She takes immense pride and her work and never lets a potential problem go unsolved.
Recently she spotted a few Red Spider Mite hot spots in our fields. The affected plant was considerably smaller than their neighboring plants and some leaves had a brown hue to them. As soon as she turned the leaves over to inspect with her magnifying glass, the leaf was infested with tiny running red spider mites.
Red Spider mite
Red spider mite / Tetranychus urticae is a species of plant-feeding mite considered to be common mite pest on strawberry. Red spider mites cause damage to plants, and this results in loss of strawberry yields. They breed in dusty, warm areas and can be transferred from dirt roads to plants.
Natural Pest control
To control or eliminate these pests Redberry Farm makes use of biological control. We do not spray unnecessary chemicals to eliminate pests and consider a more natural approach.
Biological control assumes that natural predators or parasites can suppress pests. Thus, we make use of Phytoseiulus persimilis from Real IPM it is a predator mite biologically modified in Kenya to kill red spider mites. They are faster than the Red Spider mites and pierce their prey with their sucking mouthparts and suck out the contents.
Pest Control method
The predator mite comes in a 500ml bottle filled with vermiculite to keep the mites safe and stored at a cool temperature. Each bottle contains 10 000 predators. As soon as Nosiphiwo sees the pest numbers increase above specific thresholds during her weekly crop scouts, a decision is made to introduce predators. Before introducing, she turns the bottle over once to get the predators active and she pours about two spoonfuls in the affected area. She then pours in spots around the affected area to avoid the hot spot to spread.
In 3-5 days’ time the predators have done their job and the spider mites have been killed – if not – Nosiphiwo will apply a second dose.
By making use of Biological pest control methods, we reduce the amount of chemicals used and make sure our strawberries are producing at optimum level.
*Please note Red Spider Mites do not affect the high quality of strawberries Redberry Farm supplies to consumers.