Ground-breaking tests to be held tackling beetles at Duncton farm

A FARM at Duncton has been chosen for trials of a pioneering technology to control damaging beetles and weevils in grain stores.

Winchester-based pest management company Exosect has announced it is starting the first full-scale trials of its new product at Keith Gadd’s Ridlington Farm.

The technology has been developed as a result of a UK government-funded project which began six years ago to develop a sustainable means of replacing pesticides and key fumigants which were being removed from the market, methyl bromide being a well-known example.

As a result, insect control in the industry has become hugely challenging and post-harvest grain losses caused by insect damage can be significant.

The new product comprises Exosect’s Entostat powder and a naturally-recurring microscopic fungi which already exists in soil and in grain stores.

The fungi specifically targets a number of species such as weevils and beetles which damage grain in storage. Entostat powder is derived from a natural ‘food grade’ wax which is harvested from sustainably farmed palm trees.

When placed in contact with insects, the powder adheres to them and can be passed from one insect to another through direct contact. The company says this enables the use of very low doses of active ingredient which helps reduce the use of chemicals.

Global post-harvest grain losses due to insect pest damage are estimated at upwards of 30 per cent.

Exosect’s chief executive, Martin Brown, said: “These trials mark a significant step towards reducing post-harvest losses in grain storage and this product has the potential to be applied to other major stored commodities. We are very grateful to Ridlington Farm for providing a perfect trial site.”

The farm was the overall winner of Petworth and District Agricultural Association’s on-farm competitions for best farm last year. Mr Gadd described the technology as ‘really interesting’.