Jul. 29, 2022
Oxitec announced that it has successfully completed the release season of Friendly™ fall armyworm on large-scale commercial farms in two corn growing regions in Brazil. In this regard, AgroPages exclusively interviewed Natalia Ferreira, General Director of Oxitec do Brasil, about the results, conclusions and next steps of the project to develop this biological agent to control the Spodoptera frugiperda pest.
Natalia Ferreira, General Director of Oxitec do Brasil
How do you rate this season of release of Friendly™ fall armyworm on large scale commercial farms?
We are pleased with the end of this second season of pilots we conducted on commercial corn farms with major partners in São Paulo and Mato Grosso. Being in the field with our product, participating in the producers' routine and adapting our technology to the conditions found in the fields helped us to advance even further in validating the effectiveness of our technology in different areas of treatment, evaluating the dosage of the product, solidifying the routes of distribution and shipment, and informing about different possibilities of installation and use of the product within the already established routine of the producers.
How important is it to test the technology in real agricultural scenarios?
Our technology has been extensively tested in our laboratories and the field under controlled conditions. This enabled the Biosafety approval of the Friendly™ fall armyworm for commercial use in April 2021. With this approval, we could go to pilots in real agricultural scenarios, where we have the product’s vision under different climatic conditions and farming practices of the farmers. Our goal is to provide a management tool for the fall armyworm to be easily incorporated into the farmer's daily routine without changing his routine.
What was the size of the tested area in two of the main corn-producing regions in Brazil?
In this 2022 corn safrinha we released the Friendly™ fall armyworm on approximately 8,800 hectares, on two commercial farms in São Paulo and another two in Mato Grosso.
What was the effectiveness and level of control achieved by this biological agent?
|Pink moths on maize|
Our scientific team is analyzing the data we obtained during the entire season. It will be used for a scientific publication and to help us plan our next pilots during the 2022-2023 season. We can say that we had excellent results not only in terms of the performance of the technology in the field but also concerning the operationalization of the use of the tool in the day-to-day work on the farms. Our partners have been collaborative and given us very positive feedback on the product and management, which makes us very excited for the commercial launch.
With management using the Friendly™ fall armyworm, how much has the use of agrochemicals been reduced? What was the increase in productivity?
The pilots of this off-season were focused on validating the effectiveness of the technology in controlling the fall armyworm in different regions in Brazil and on defining the dosage per product per hectare for varying levels of infestation, in addition to enabling the development and validation of distribution and shipping routes, and the development of new technologies to help large-scale insect production. The impacts of using the solution on integrated pest management and crop productivity are among the objectives of our following pilots.
What was the role of the MT Foundation in the pilot season?
The partnership with Fundação MT was essential for us to expand our pilots to one of the country’s largest corn-producing states. In addition, Fundação MT is one of the leading agricultural research institutions in the country, a reference for thousands of producers. This helped us to get closer to the public looking for new technologies to fight this pest in the corn fields, connecting us with the end consumer of the technology.
How soon will the technology be on sale?
We forecast that Friendly™ fall armyworm will be ready for commercial release in two to three years.
What will be the next steps of the project?
We will continue with the pillars in the field, getting closer and closer to farmers and distributors in the largest producing states in the country. In this way, we will ensure that the product is well-positioned for its commercial launch, having been validated by the leading players in the market.
(Editing by Leonardo Gottems, reporter for AgroPages)
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