Russell IPM is the leading manufacturer of pheromone based insect monitoring and control systems in the UK and one of the largest in Europe. Its core expertise covers insect behaviour modifying systems and natural-product-based bio-rational pest management. When it comes to biopesticides or biocontrol, we have to think of Russell IPM. In the following interview, Dr Nayem Hassan, Head of Research and Development at Russell IPM, introduced us to the development plan of Russell IPM in the next five years.
We know that Russell IPM is an innovative company. Can you introduce the current product line of Russell IPM to us? And what is the research plan for the next 5 years?
Russell IPM products offer a safer alternative of natural origin to crop protection solutions that are based on the applications of pesticides. At Russell we design, develop and manufacture biorational products that are safe for both farmers and produce consumers, effective in nourishing and protecting plants and good to the environment. Our integrated pest control systems enable growers to produce crops without pesticide residue, preventing chemical toxicity from entering the food chain. During the next five years will be focusing on the development of further such biological crop management strategies that will include bio-fertilisers, bio-stimulants, seed treatment solutions and biological crop protection products. Simultaneously, we are developing smart crop management systems that utilise real-time monitoring to pinpoint crop protection strategies. Our goal here is to bring climatic and pest outbreak data to farmers’ fingertips. To that end, we recently have invested in constructing a new dedicated facility for microbial fermentation and biopesticides production in Flint, UK. This new state-of-the-art production line will be more efficient and ergonomic in manufacturing large quantities of bio-pesticides in a short space of time. Consequently, we can respond to the market quickly with cutting edge UK-quality products.
In recent years, biopesticides have developed rapidly. How has Russell IPM developed over the past few years? What are the existing major markets? What markets are planned to develop in the future?
Keeping up with the global trends, Russell IPM has developed a number of our own biological pesticides, including microbial, plant extract-based, microbial extract-based and some containing soap salts or surfactants. Our pheromone lures range has been expanded to include mating disruption systems and multiple species pheromone lures for agriculture, public health and pest control use. We have a strong R&D team that collaborates with major UK universities and research institutes. Thanks to our foresight, even during the height of the recession during the last ten years Russell IPM has invested substantially in R&D and infrastructure and has produced biorational solutions that are still going strong, for example, specialised roller traps against Western flower thrips, pheromone-based systems for the monitoring and control of Tuta absoluta, Fall armyworm, fruit flies of economic importance and other open-field and protected crops pests. In recognition of our efforts to remain at the forefront of innovation, the company has just been awarded the prestigious Queen’s award for Enterprise for a 3rd time this year. Our products reach over 80 countries, but we are now going to redouble our expanding sales force to deepen our partnerships in the UK, Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia. The new markets in Agriculture that we are targeting are South America, North America, Canada, Eastern Europe, Russia and Southern Africa.
We know that Russell IPM has established business in China for several years. What achievements has Chinese company made during these years? How do you see the opportunities and challenges in emerging markets like China?
Russell IPM China and our team there are promoting the biopesticides we have for agriculture and stored product insects. One major problem that Chinese growers face is fungal diseases in vegetables and ginger, root rot and Chinese fruit fly, Bactrocera minax. We are developing products for those problems, as well as promoting our product for mating disruption of stored product moths. Our five offices in China are now registering a number of the latest biopesticides and biofertilisers we make. Last but not least, over the course of the last two years, Russell IPM China has established strong collaboration ties with a certain Chinese university to test market-specific pheromone-based technologies and to train the local work force to produce the most effective new products in China. The major challenge there is the registration process, as well as the comparatively higher price of biological pesticides compared to cheap chemical pesticide. The farmers and growers need to be convinced of the benefits of switching to bio-pesticides and that takes time and effort.
Can you please introduce some details about Russell IPM Training? What is the original intention of setting Russell IPM Training and what achievements has been made?
Russell IPM provide training on IPM solutions and biorational crop protection for agriculture, public health, food hygiene and smart monitoring. Our trainers are fully qualified with relevant academic degrees and wide overseas field experience. We also are working closely with scientists from developing countries. As part of one project for the development of a biorational solution funded by the Bangladesh government, Russell IPM will train around 50 scientists at our satellite offices in the country over the next 3 years. We have obtained accreditation as trainers at Level 2 for food hygiene by the Royal Society for Food and Hygiene.
Can you share with us about Russell IPM's experience in the promotion of biopesticides to growers?
We promote biopesticides through field trials and product demonstrations, during famers’ days, seminars, training, regional and international exhibitions. We are an active member of IBMA and the EU SCLP Pheromone Task Force. In addition, we aim to deliver papers through various high-profile crop and pest-specific seminar, symposiums and international congress. Via our social media and websites, as well as other digital forums, we aim to promote safer, cleaner biopesticides.