Following years of development and testing, a new organic-certified crop protection product has been approved to assist growers in the battle against some of Australia’s most destructive pests. This includes fall armyworm, which was detected on our shores for the first time earlier this year.

In the summer of 1982, a research scientist took a well-earned holiday in the sunny Caribbean. While touring the local sights with his wife, he visited an abandoned rum distillery on a tiny tropical island.

Quietly wandering through the old buildings, he was struck by the ghostly, eerie silence. In a climate where the incessant buzz of insect life droned 24 hours a day, the sudden quiet was deafening.

Intrigued, he took some soil samples and transported them back to the United States for testing. What he and his team discovered was a unique soil bacterium that produces active metabolites (spinosyns) that gave excellent control of certain insect pests.

Years of development and exhaustive testing followed, culminating in the release of Entrust® Organic, a product characterised by its efficacy equivalent to synthetic insecticides, but with the safety and environmental profile of a biological.

This product received regulatory approval by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) in July 2020, and will be available this October.

New resistance tool

Naturally-derived, highly effective, and fast-acting, this product has long been anticipated by the Australian agricultural market. Its organic certification, favourable environmental profile and selectivity to key beneficial insects make it ideally suited to many Integrated Pest Management (IPM) systems.

Entrust® Organic belongs to a unique insecticide group known as the ‘Spinosyns’, a group 5 insecticide for resistance management shared only by one other product, Success® Neo.

The introduction of this product offers organic growers a new resistance management tool for the selective control of some of Australia’s most damaging pests. As with all insecticides, it is beholden on users to rotate between different chemical Modes of Action (MoA) in accordance with label directions to prevent the onset of resistance.

The broad label covers more than 80 registered crops, including a wide range of fruits and vegetables, making it extremely versatile for farmers with mixed enterprises.

Tackling pest incursions

It offers growers effective control of several damaging Lepidoptera species including diamondback moth, heliothis, cluster caterpillar, light brown apple moth and many other caterpillar pests including loopers. It also controls western flower thrips, leafminer and cherry slugs (Diptera).

The recent arrival of fall armyworm (FAW) in northern Australia earlier this year presented significant challenges for organic producers. Subsequently, the APVMA approved an emergency use permit (PER89870) for the use of this product.

“Biological products are often associated with lower levels of performance compared to those of synthetic insecticides,” Corteva Agriscience Marketing Manager Nick Koch said.

“Contrary to belief, this could not be further from the truth when assessing the performance of Entrust® Organic.”

Trans-laminar activity is a useful feature of this product. The active ingredient moves into the leaf tissue allowing it to control pests, such as leafminer. However, it is not systemic – thorough coverage is required to protect the entire crop and repeated application to protect new growth.

“It’s hard to imagine a product that is so effective at controlling pests being environmentally sustainable, but this is certainly the case,” Mr Koch said.

“It degrades quickly through exposure to sunlight – breaking down into carbon dioxide and water within a matter of days, which means producers can grow a healthy crop and maintain a healthy farm.

“Organic and conventional producers of fruits and vegetables now have a pest control option that ticks all the boxes. They can be rest assured knowing that their crop protection choices will provide them with a sustainable future for this generation into the next.”

Find out more

Entrust® Organic will be available in limited supply from October. To register your interest, please click here or call Corteva Agriscience toll free on 1800 700 096 and speak to a Territory Account Manager.

This article features in the spring 2020 edition of Vegetables Australia. Click here to read the full publication.