Feb. 6, 2019
By Leonardo Gottems, reporter for AgroPages
At the end of 2018, the General Direction of Agricultural Services (DGSA) of the Ministry of Agriculture of Uruguay registered a new biological control agent for the control of soybean and sunflower caterpillars. It is the first species used to combat extensive crop pests registered in the Latin American country.
The concept of a biological control agent implies that a natural enemy of the pest is introduced in a controlled manner at suitable times in the crop. In this context, Uruguay is using the Trichogramma Pretiosum Riley, a small wasp that parasitizes the host insect, laying eggs on the larvae of the caterpillar.
After the wasp is released, there must be plantation management that contributes to the development of the natural enemy. It is an alternative and/or complementary management to the traditional use of insecticides, developed mainly for the cultivation of soybeans, a fundamental fact that contributes to greater food security.
"This is a method that already has years of development, and now, we have finally registered the controlling agent of the main caterpillars that attack soybeans in Uruguay. The concept of food safety and sustainability is strengthened. We want to strengthen the biodiversity of our territory, but for this, we need more research and work in the diffusion of this knowledge and assistance for the producer to use these tools," said Federico Montes, Director of DGSA.
There are already nine records of other types of biological controls in Uruguay. By 2019, another 17 new agents can be registered for different crops, such as apples, grapes, alfalfa, soybeans, peppers, lettuce, citrus and eucalyptus.