Lifecycle Management of Fall Production Pests Using Biological Pesticides

By Manuel Campos, Ph.D., Entomologist, BioSafe Systems 

Seasons come and seasons go, but it always seems like the pests are here to stay. Developing a successful and sustainable year-round IPM program should be paramount for any grower whether it be in the greenhouse or in the nursery fields. Keeping in mind the entire lifecycle of the trouble insects can be more difficult in practice than it is in concept. Many growers deal with their pest problems in the now, however taking a preventative approach during the early stages of an insect’s growth will prove to be even more effective over time. Using biological products is one way to ensure greater control of pests while maintaining a sustainable and non-resistant program.

Fall production of ornamental crops such as pansies and poinsettias can be a breeding ground for whiteflies, fungus gnats, and thrips. Importing plugs from external sources presents its own risks as well when growers end up importing more than they bargained for. Bringing in large amounts of product along with large amounts of pests can have a detrimental effect on production and profits if left unchecked. Using biological pesticides that affect the different stages of an insect’s lifecycle are extremely effective, non-residual, and are soft on the plants themselves during any stage of production. Biological products can still be used with broad spectrum bactericides/fungicides but it’s all about the timing. Chemistries such as ZeroTol 2.0 can be applied throughout the growing on and finishing stages to prevent or treat common foliar diseases such as Botrytis or powdery mildew and since it simply breaks down into air and water a biological product can be used as soon as the chemical dries.

BioSafe Systems, a leader in sustainable chemistries, has developed a proprietary OMRI listed strain of Beauveria bassiana fungus used in their BioCeres WP® product, which is approved for organic production and is perfectly suited for IPM programs, in a tank mix with other pesticides or surfactants as well as specific, stand-alone use. This sustainable insecticide consists of a wettable powder formulation that is easily blended with water to form a suspension and can be applied as a direct foliar spray or fogging. BioCeres WP is enhanced with UV inhibitors and other proprietary stabilizers to form an extremely stable and predictable biological product that can be used regularly with no mutational resistance.

BioCeres WP is used for the biological control of numerous pests at all stages of their lifecycles including whiteflies, aphids, thrips, and spotted wing drosophila by adhering to the insect’s cuticle, germinating and piercing its outer shell, ultimately causing death. It can be used in a wide range of agricultural, nursery, and greenhouse crops including ornamental plants and edibles.

When an insect comes into direct contact or consumes the Beauveria bassiana, the conidia’s germination tubes begin to grow directly into the body of the insect by penetrating its outer shell (cuticle). These hyphae will not only pierce the insect causing physical changes but will release toxins as well, slowing their movement and reducing the damage that the insect can inflict on plants. This infection from BioCeres WP results in a white mold growth, called White Muscardine Disease, which leads to the eventual death of the insect. The Muscardine Disease will continue to produce spores, spreading to other insects and repeating the process without harming plants.

BioCeres WP is part of a larger BioSafe system of products and is made stronger by working together with other biological products such as AzaGuard, which acts as an insect growth regulator, stopping the molting process between the larval and pupal stages. Combining this effect with BioCeres WP, which targets all lifecycle stages, especially adults, effectively controls various insects that can harm crops of all kinds. Products like these are extremely effective as part of an integrated IPM program and aid growers in being proactive against pests rather than reactive. Ultimately saving time, money, and giving peace of mind to growers as they deal with stubborn pests anywhere in their production.

Killer Pathogens Can Be Murder on Crops

Courtesy of Growing America

They lurk deep down in the soils in crop fields—little murderers with names like Rhizoctonia, Pectobacterium and Pythium. You can’t see them, but you can see the mayhem they cause to your crops. Rotting roots. Wilted leaves. Lesions. Stunted growth. Money out the window.

“Soil-borne plant pathogens can limit or even ruin an entire vegetable or fruit crop if left uncontrolled,” says Vijay Kumar Choppakatla, Plant Pathologist/Director of Research and Development for BioSafe Systems. “The challenge is that many of them have a very broad host range, making a wide variety of crops susceptible to the destruction they can cause…and often you don’t know the pathogens exist until the worst damage is done.”

Choppakatla says it doesn’t take much to create the perfect pathogen storm. Among plant pathologists, and at BioSafe, a family-owned manufacturer of biodegradable disease-control products, based in East Hartford, Connecticut, that perfect storm is known as the “three corners of the disease triangle.” You start with a virulent pathogen, add a susceptible host (your crop plants), place in a congenial environment, and boom…a successful plant disease is born.

Even worse, soil-borne pathogens tend to be hardy—some of the nastiest fungal-based pathogens such as sclerotia can thrive in some of the harshest conditions and persist in the soil for many years, whether or not a field is planted.

Bottom line? Once pathogens have made themselves comfortable in your soil, they’re difficult to eradicate. Difficult, but not impossible.

Combination of Management Practices

Choppakatla says most growers use a combination of management practices to combat pathogens, including cultural, chemical and biological methods, all to achieve what today is generally known as “biosecurity.” In simple terms, biosecurity is the elimination and prevention of disease pressures in an environment, thereby maintaining a healthy growing area. The challenge is to exercise biosecurity while being kind to the environment

  1.  Cultural Methods

When you think “cultural” management of soil-borne pathogens, think about the things you’re likely doing already such as adding organic matter to your soil, rotating crops, planting cover crops between fields, controlling irrigation, and disposing of culled produce somewhere where it won’t re-infect a field.

Another simple yet powerful eradication method is soil solarization, literally using the heat from the sun to kill the bad organisms. While it may not be viable for large fields, it works well in smaller plots.

According to Rodale’s Organic Life, the process involves laying a clear plastic tarp atop soil cleared of plant debris to concentrate the sun’s energy in the top 12 to 18 inches. The heat trapped below the plastic can reach highs of 140°F in the top 6 inches, killing weed seeds, insects, nematodes, and many fungal and bacterial pathogens. It’s worth noting that the beneficial effects from solarization are greatest near the soil surface and decrease with depth.

2.    Chemical Methods

Chemical methods involve use of soil fumigation prior to crop planting, seed treatment with chemicals and post-plant soil fungicides.

“Using chemicals can be effective, however, the application processes can be cumbersome and intensive,” says Choppakatla. “Some soil fumigants require growers to adhere to special management plans to properly administer the treatment and avoid any non-target exposure to the applied fumigant. Plus, there’s a waiting period between application and planting of about 3 to 4 weeks. It’s also critical to create buffer zones around the treated fields.”

Moreover, Choppakatla points out, for organic growers, conventional fumigants aren’t even an option. Which is why many farmers, traditional and organic alike, turn to the natural option of biological-based control and eradication of soil-borne pathogens—solutions that are not only safer for the environment, but also for people and animals.

3.    Biological Methods

Biological-based methods (Bio-control) involve the use of registered bacterial and/or fungal-based bio-control agents; natural preventiatives which protect plant roots from soil pathogen infection; and use of soil inoculants which use beneficial endophytes (microbes) to promote plant health.

Choppakatla says the primary objective of these all-natural treatments is to address soil-borne pathogens in a way that maintains sustainable soil health without negatively impacting the health and safety of people and the environment.

“An important consideration in the use of biological management options is that they are primarily preventive in nature,” notes Choppakatla. “In other words, they help to prevent the infection but may not help with control once infection is established. So timing of application is key with this method.”

BioSafe’s treatments involve integration of chemical and biological based methods designed to help with controlling soil pathogens while maintaining/improving the soil health, which is critical for plant growth.

“The chemical treatment method we’ve developed involves use of activated hydrogen peroxide-based chemistry and both of the products in the system are non-residual and non-toxic.”

Among the products based under this group of chemicals (H202 + PAA) are TerraStart and TerraClean 5.0 which Choppakatla says are both EPA approved for use as a soil bactericide/fungicide. TerraClean 5.0 is also OMRI approved for use in organic production.

“Upon application to the soil,” explains Choppakatla, “the products basically sanitize the soil by oxidizing the plant pathogenpropagules immediately on contact. Then the chemicals break down into water, oxygen and acetic acid, which are completely safe by-products. As an added benefit, there is a release of oxygen, a bonus benefit because it helps oxygenate the plant root zone.”

We all want effective solutions for maintaining healthy soil that contributes to healthy growth and high yields, and sometimes the idea of “alternative methods” can give us pause. As part of a company that specializes in those alternative methods, Choppakatla knows well the hesitation some growers have to try new technologies.

“Ask the hard questions, read up on reliable efficacy data, and do the math to make sure it fits your budget. But above all, whatever treatment plan you adopt for your operation, consider its effects on the environment.”

BioSafe Systems Introduces PerCarb Broad-Spectrum Bactericide/Fungicide

EAST HARTFORD, CT, May 1 – BioSafe Systems announces PerCarb (Sodium Carbonate Peroxyhydrate), a new alternative to Potassium Bicarbonate and lime sulfur products for use in agriculture.

 PerCarb is an EPA-registered, 0-hour REI, broad-spectrum bactericide/fungicide designed to treat and control plant pathogens that cause major foliar diseases on field-grown crops, tree crops, vine crops, berries, small fruits, vegetable crops and greenhouse fruits and vegetables.

 PerCarb is designed for superior coverage in foliar applications with no phytotoxicity as well as pre and post-season dormant applications for many tree and vine crops, providing excellent control of downy mildew, powdery mildew, botrytis rot, bacterial leaf spot and more.

 For more information, contact BioSafe Systems toll-free at 888-273-3088 or visit

International Poultry Council Adopts Position Statement on Antimicrobial Usage

Published with permission by Poultry Times.  Originally posted on June 19, 2017.

STONE MOUNTAIN, Ga. — In a landmark decision, the International Poultry Council has adopted a position statement on the responsible and efficacious use of antimicrobials in global poultry production.

The statement sets a science-based course for the global poultry industry to follow that safeguards the efficacy of antimicrobial usage while at the same time addressing the issues of resistance, bird welfare, food safety, and concerns of consumers, the council noted.

“The IPC acknowledges antimicrobial resistance is a global concern and that the poultry industry must adopt management practices that reduce the use of those antimicrobials for which resistance could pose the greatest global risk,” said IPC President Jim Sumner. “We also should educate the public about these practices.”

Sumner said the statement encourages the global poultry sector to be proactive in its engagement with its stakeholders and “to implement practices that advance the ‘one health’ objectives that lead to healthy people, healthy animals, and a healthy planet.”

Members of the IPC began discussions on a position statement on antimicrobials at the organization’s second semester 2016 meeting in Portugal, and concluded work on the document at its most recent meeting in Cartagena, Colombia, in April.

“Stewardship in antimicrobial use is essential,” said Ricardo Santin of ABPA, the Brazilian Animal Protein Association. “As a sector, we must understand and control why and when we use antimicrobials, which antimicrobials we use, how much antimicrobials we use, and transparently communicate our actions”

Santin said that the industry must set its priorities for antimicrobial use in order to strike a balance between reducing the need for these compounds and providing the best possible care for its animals.

The IPC noted that it also recognizes the ethical obligation of farmers and their veterinarians to protect the health and welfare of the birds in their care, which may include the responsible use of antimicrobials. They emphasized that the poultry supply chain globally has a responsibility to ensure that it minimizes the industry’s potential contribution to the development of antimicrobial resistance.

 “We discussed and strongly recommend that all antimicrobials will only be used in compliance with national authorizations, and that those antimicrobials critically important for human medicine should be used for therapeutic purposes only and under a supervising veterinarian’s diagnosis and oversight,” said Prasert Anuchiracheeva, secretary general of the Thai Broiler Processing Exporters Association.

“We do not yet have all the answers as to the extent by which the use of antimicrobials in livestock production contribute to antimicrobial resistance,” said Paul Lopez, president of a.v.e.c., the European poultry association. “But we know that the IPC has a key leadership role in understanding and minimizing the poultry sector’s impact. IPC members have a responsibility to produce safe, wholesome, and nutritious food, and within that is a duty to the best health and welfare of their birds.”

Sumner said that the IPC and its members will actively engage with intergovernmental organizations, with governments, and with stakeholders to help shape public policy to address antimicrobial resistance.

“We look forward to working with World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN, the World Health Organization, and the Codex Alimentarius Commission to ensure that we collaboratively address the need to use all antimicrobials responsibly, and only when needed,” he said.

Grower Tips: Water System Inspections Pay Off


Published with permission by Poultry Times.  Originally posted on June 14, 2017.

National Poultry Technology Center

Auburn University

AUBURN, Ala. — Satisfying bird water needs is crucial for top flock performance, and it takes a great deal of water. A typical updated 40-foot by 500-foot broiler house in Alabama can consume 450,000 gallons or more of potable water a year for bird consumption and operation of a 6-inch evaporative cooling system.

 A four-house broiler farm of these houses may require 1.8 to 2 million gallons per year. Satisfying water demand can be especially challenging in summertime when both birds and evaporative cooling systems are thirsty. In addition to meeting the total demand, it is critical to meet the peak flow rate needed, which in hot weather might be as much as 50 to 60 gallons per minute for four houses.

We too often see farms that do not show obvious problems most of the time during cool and mild weather growouts — but show significant flock performance reductions in hot weather because of failing to meet the peak flow rate demand, which can be very costly to a grower.

Hot weather is fast approaching. Are your house’s water plumbing and supply systems adequate to handle summer’s peak demand? If you can’t answer “Yes,” with confidence, it is time to put a water supply system inspection at the top of your cleaning checklist.

Broiler house water system inspections should be routinely scheduled, but there are some scenarios or situations to look for that tell you to do it now:

  • Can’t get weight on birds and/or see higher than average mortality rates in hot weather.
  • Have experienced a drop in performance after adding additional houses on a farm.
  • Upgraded fans for higher wind speed and 6-inch cooling system without upgrading plumbing.
  • Experience low or no pressure at drinker lines and in control rooms when birds are drinking and evaporative cooling systems are filling at the same time.
  • Have trouble keeping evaporative cooling systems from running out of water on hot days.

Dollars saved or lost

If any of the situations or symptoms described above applies to your farm, a water supply restriction might be the root of the problem. Identifying a water supply problem can be tricky but of utmost importance in dollars and cents. You don’t want an overlooked water restriction to drop you to the bottom of the settlement sheet.

Consider two farms, each with four similar 40-foot by 500-foot broiler houses that require approximately 13 gpm (gallons per minute) per house at peak demand on a really hot, dry day, so the total farm water supply flow rate required is 52 gpm. Grower A has an adequate water supply and routinely checks for any symptoms of water shortage on the farm and corrects them. Grower B on the other hand, has consistently had trouble with performance during hot weather. He hasn’t identified the problem but notices the houses run low on pressure at times.

The truth is that Grower B’s water supply system is either partially clogged or undersized, and can deliver only 40 gpm, not 52 gpm. That’s a lot of gallons not available during crucial times of the growout when birds and cooling pads need it the most.

In this situation of hot weather water inadequacy, Grower B’s flocks may take as much as a 3 percent hit in livability and lose as much as 0.4 pounds of potential per bird average live weight. What does this look like in dollars and cents, if each farm places 88,000 birds per growout? There are many other factors to consider, but let’s keep it simple:

Grower A: livability: 97 percent; number of birds sold: 85,360; average lbs. per bird: 8.5; total lbs. sold: 725,560; $0.056/lbs. sold: $40,631.36.

Grower B: livability: 94 percent; number of birds sold: 82,720; average lbs. per bird: 8.1; total lbs. sold: 670,032; $0.056/lbs. sold: $37,521.79.

Income difference: $3,109.57.

Grower A, having an adequate water supply, received a check for approximately $40,631.36 with a good average weight and good livability. Grower B, having an inadequate water supply, sent fewer birds to the plant with poor livability and a much lower average weight and brought home $3,109.57 less for the same number of chicks placed. Grower B could easily find himself in this scenario for at least two hot weather flocks and see an estimated $6,219.14 in less income compared to Grower A, simply due to water inadequacy.

Cost of fixing a plumbing or other water supply problem on the average poultry farm varies greatly depending on the particular situation, but $6,000 would certainly go a long way toward fixing the problem.

Inspection points

The first point to consider is that the water source used — whether a water utility or pumping from a well or pond, must be capable of supplying the amount and flow rate needed.

Particular poultry farm water needs vary greatly depending on location, whether conditions, number and size of houses, and number and size of birds grown in those houses. Our example farm above, typical for the lower Broiler Belt growing large birds, needs a water source capable of supplying a minimum of 52 gpm at maximum demand.

Remember, that is just for the poultry farm, not a dwelling or other farm needs. Contact your company representative for an estimated per-house water requirement.

Following are the main items to check to assure your water system and plumbing are adequate. Examples assume the same typical four-house farm with modern 40-foot by 500-foot broiler houses, the farm requiring 52 gpm at peak demand. Note: these figures are for illustration purposes only, and may not fit your farm. Each farm must be assessed according to the location of the farm, weather conditions, type and size of birds, and amount and type of equipment installed.

Undersized water meter

Undersized water meters can significantly reduce the amount of water pressure and flow that a farm receives during hot weather. The meter might be sufficient to supply a residential home but not a poultry farm.

Our example farm requiring 52 gpm will need a 1.5-inch diameter municipal water meter to adequately supply the farm. The typical 3/4-inch water meter is rated for up to 30 gpm and a 1-inch meter up to 50 gpm, each restricting 15 psi at given water flow. These are American Water Works Association standard pressure loss ratings. Specific meter ratings should be confirmed with the water supplier and meter manufacturer.

Undersized main plumbing line(s)

Undersized main water supply lines are often found to be the root of a water problem. A certified plumber should be consulted to determine if a farm’s main line is undersized. The distance from the water source at the meter or well head to the farm’s control room determines the amount of pressure (friction) loss that will occur.

Also, major changes in elevation contribute to pressure loss. For example, a 21.7 psi pressure loss will be felt if the farm is only 50 feet above the meter or well head. Our example four-house farm would need a 2-inch diameter PVC main water line and would have 20 psi of friction loss if the farm was 1,000 feet from the point of supply on level grade.

If the farm water system was installed using only a 1.5-inch main line the friction loss would be approximately 60 psi (three times more) measured 1,000 feet away. A new 2-inch main water meter won’t fix the problem of an undersized main supply line on the farm.

Stopped up filters

The great thing about water filters is the fact that they are disposable just like the air filters in our homes. The problem is sometimes we forget to change them and even if we have a regimen we follow to change them once per flock that might not be enough during summer months when we are using more than average water.

Each farm is different and the rate of filter changes is based on quality and quantity of water used. It is imperative to have water pressure gauges installed on both sides of the filter so the grower can tell if and when the filter is restricting water pressure. This really needs to be checked when a significant number of the birds are up and drinking. If no water is flowing through the filter then there will not be a pressure drop even if the filter needs to be changed. The poorer the water quality the more time and effort a grower will have to spend keeping filters clean.

Clogged regulator

Water pressure regulators are a great way to restrict water pressure to the drinker systems inside the house but they too can be a water flow restriction.

This regulator takes the pressure down from supply pressure at 40 to 100 psi to approximately 25 to 40 psi, depending on company preference. These regulators have a wire mesh screen inside of them to keep trash from damaging the regulator but can restrict water flow as contaminants build up over time.

Regulators should be removed from the line and inspected each year at minimum. Water meters and medicators can also become clogged with trash in the system.

Kinked drinker supply hoses

Also known as drop houses, these connect the water supply plumbing to the drinker lines. The most frequent problem we see with drop houses is that they become easily kinked and partially or totally stop water flow.

Common household or “garden” hoses are not good options for supplying water to drinkers as they are often very easy to kink. Even if higher quality hoses are used, they too can become kinked. If small diameter drop hoses are used, be aware that if biofilm builds up in these hoses, they too can become a source of water restriction.

Contaminated nipple drinkers

While modern nipple drinkers usually work well to supply birds with adequate water, they can become partially clogged with biofilm and other contaminants and functionally restrict water. This is not just a hot weather problem. It can occur at any time of the year, and is most often a problem with young chicks, resulting in high 7-day mortalities.

Young chicks are often not strong enough to break the drinker pins free if they are stuck. Activating nipple drinkers prior to bird placement is a must. As nipple drinker technology has evolved, there are several different types of nipple drinkers on the market, designed for the different types and size of birds.

Make sure the nipple drinkers in your lines were designed for the birds you are growing. If you have questions about what nipple drinker is right for the flocks being grown, ask your company representative about approved drinker types and options.

Backup water source

Water plays an extremely important role in growing a good healthy flock of chickens, so making sure the farm has a good clean and abundant source of water from day one to catch is imperative.

Just as you need a backup generator, you need a fall-back water source. If your primary water source fails for any reason, your secondary source must be ready to take over and carry the farm until the primary water source can be restored.

The bottom line

It is very difficult to maintain a competitive edge growing chickens on farms that have water supply problems, especially during hot weather growouts.

Water restrictions can develop slowly over time and go unnoticed for years, but will have been robbing performance all that time. A little time spent on preventative maintenance on the farm’s water system can pay dividends by the end of the summer.

We have received many calls and reports back from growers and company representatives that have basically “turned problem farms around” simply by identifying and successfully repairing water supply problems. That is not to say that this will fix every problem, but it is certainly worth a grower’s time to pay some attention to his water supply system.

If it is decided that a plumbing upgrade is in order for your farm and you are not comfortable or experienced in plumbing work, please contact a company representative and a local, reputable plumber and come up with a plan together. There is never enough money for a redo and fixing mistakes in an emergency can be costly.

More information from the National Poultry Technology Center (NPTC) at Auburn University can be obtained at