Biological control in greenhouse IPM systems: Where we’ve been, where we are, and where we need to go?


Abstract: Greenhouses provide a growing environment that is optimized for crop production. They provide stable conditions where crops are protected from extremes of weather and the intensive production systems yield a high value, quality product. Yet greenhouse production has its own unique challenges. A diverse range of crops are grown and plant materials are often produced in one facility (which may be in another part of the world) and shipped to be finished in another. The production environment also favours many arthropod pests and plant diseases, which may travel on plant material from one location to another. With the rapid evolution of resistance, declining access to new chemistries, and increasingly strict environmental/health and safety regulations, biological control plays an increasingly important role in greenhouse pest and disease management. Greater use of biocontrol has been supported by legislation in some parts of the world but in general, demands for biocontrol services are growing everywhere, particularly as more crops are produced indoors in response to climate change. A growing market places enormous stresses on biocontrol companies just to keep up with demand for their existing products, in addition to providing solutions for new pests on new crops. The challenge to researchers and the biocontrol industry is to devise ways in which biocontrol strategies can evolve to meet this growing demand. This creates opportunities to bring new biocontrol technologies to market, to devise more efficient ways of producing and using natural enemies, and to develop more robust integrated strategies that enhance the fundamental resilience of the production systems in which they are used.

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