- Press release
, François-Xavier Branthôme
The Terrepadane Consortium and northern Italy's interbranch organization of the tomato processing industry recently presented to technicians and operators of the sector the results of a three-year research and experimentation project to counter the development of the red spider mite in processing tomato crops. This project was co-financed by the rural development program of the Emilia-Romagna region.
Over these three years, specific questionnaires were prepared and distributed to farmers. Trials, field surveys of the pest populations and efficiency tests of agro-pharmaceutical products have been carried out, and training and extension sessions have been conducted with farmers and all stakeholders of the processing tomato sector.
At the end of this work, and taking into account the fact that no new plant-health products are available within the framework of the specifications of "Integrated Farming", the most effective strategy consists, on the one hand, in containing the infestations of spider mites and, on the other hand, avoiding the development of resistances to the plant-health products currently available, which would seriously endanger production in years to come.
The project, which was started in 2019 and is now ending, has cost a total of EUR 250,000, of which EUR 180,000 have been financed by the Emilia Romagna Region, in the context of its Rural Development Plan. Partners have included the Terrepadane Agricultural Consortium (lead agency), the Pomodoro da Industria del Nord Italia interbranch organization, the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart of Piacenza, the Ainpo PO, the Tadini Training Center and four farms located in the most affected area, in the south of Piacenza province.
In order to identify factors predisposing crops to red spider infestations, the Pomodoro Nord Italia IO collected information from one hundred farms located between Piacenza and Parma, with the collaboration of the Ainpo, Asipo and Poa POs. The data collected was analyzed by the Piacenza Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, which then drafted a proposal for new guidelines for prevention and control of red spider mites in the field, in compliance with the specifications of Integrated Farming.
On the four partner farms of the project, field trials were conducted to compare the application of these guidelines with traditional methods.
The University has monitored the presence of the spiders in the territory, collecting specimens in the field and classifying the many populations in the laboratory, performing tests to evaluate resistance to plant protection products, in which the direct action of the products and the effects of combined applications have been verified. Scientists have also conducted trials regarding the effectiveness of currently used plant protection products.
The Tadini Training Center has set up specific training courses for different professional categories: growers, PO technicians, and retailers of plant-health products. The courses have been improved by adding the new information provided by the progress of the project, with the aim of updating and deepening knowledge regarding these mites. An interesting meeting was also organized with representatives of the Portuguese processing tomato production sector, in order to exchange knowledge on methods of control, on how the red spider mite is dealt with in the different European territories and on the best practices adopted.
Various resources have been put together in order to support farmers in their struggle against the pest: a video, a paper vade-mecum and videos available on the WhatsApp application.
Key points to communicate
1. To counter potential resistance, treat fields only after the spider mite appears. Never before!
2. To avoid resistant populations, ensure that the first treatment is done with different products than those used the previous year.
3. For best results, always alternate inputs with different active mechanisms.
4. To increase effectiveness, mix ovicides with potassium salts of fatty acids or with mineral oils. Do not repeat treatments with ovicides.
5. Follow label directions carefully.
6. When treating, never mix acaricides with other crop protection products and wet thoroughly and evenly. The spider lives under the leaves.
7. Wash equipment thoroughly before using it on other planted surfaces. This prevents the spread of the spider.
8. Always consult your PO technician, the Phytosanitary Consortium, and provincial bulletins.
9. If you notice that the effectiveness of treatments is decreasing, please inform your PO technician, Plant Health services, and the University.
10. Only ask dealer technicians to sell you products that are registered for mites and listed in the specifications.
Sources: OI Pomodoro Industria Nord Italia