The first biological insecticide based on Baculovirus Spodoptera against the fall armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda), CartuchoVIT, was launched by Vitae Rural group in Brazil. The product was co-developed by Embrapa Milho e Milho (the Sorghum and Corn division of the Brazilian Agricultural Research Company) and the Vitae Rural group. CartuchoVIT is estimated to be commercialized this October to meet the 2017/2018 harvest.
“CartuchoVIT will be sold in retail stores, will be accessible to farmers that plant in small areas or through direct sales or in dealerships, easing the commercialization for big farmers,” explained Paulo Bittar, an associate at Vitae Rural.
According to Embrapa, one of the biggest challenges faced during the stage of industrialization of CartuchoVIT is to make the insecticide more resistant to the exposure of ultraviolet radiation. The recommendation of application for the product on crop is after 16 hours, once sunlight destroys the Baculovirus, making it ineffective against the caterpillar.
Bittar revealed that Vitae Rural already has a new formula for the product developed with more protection: “It is a path of closed formula, which we will have to track with the Ministry of Agriculture. We will have to do the regulatory part yet and I believe that within three years we will offer this new version,” said Bittar. It has been identified as premium by the development staff.
According to research, said Fernando Valicent of Embrapa Milho e Sorgo, providing a biological product in the market and maintaining it efficiency during its shelf time is very challenging. “Those were several years of investments, laboratory experiments and in the field to make product viable. The balance is very positive, once each year we see more aggressive attacks of the Fall Armyworm and, consequently, greater quantities of chemical insecticides being applied. This way, the baculovirus comes to bring a balance in this context.”
“Embrapa has a fundamental role in the transference of this technology. Combined with the productive capacity of the Vitae Rural group, the trend is to increase production to meet growing demand from the agricultural frontiers of the country,” said the researcher.
Evaluations on the field have proved the efficiency of the product, presenting a death rate of between 75 percent and 95 percent of the caterpillar, with up to five days of age (almost one centimeter in length). The baculovirus symptoms start with the loss of appetite (being able to reduce the feed of the caterpillar in up to 93 percent), then reduction in mobility, discoloring of the body and death. Besides the efficiency, the technology presents differentials in the low number of applications (in general two) and the preservation of water wells and the natural enemies of the pest.