Survey: Positive Indicators For Biocontrols In U.S. Horticulture, Agriculture

Survey: Positive Indicators For Biocontrols In U.S. Horticulture, Agriculture

Preliminary results of a survey conducted in December 2014 of more than 850 readers across six Meister Media Worldwide titles – American-Western Fruit Grower, American Vegetable Grower, Cotton Grower, CropLife, Florida Grower, and Greenhouse Grower magazines suggests a positive present and future for use of biocontrols in U.S. horticulture and agriculture.

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Survey respondents are predominantly growers, followed by University/Extension, ag consultants, ag retailers, and crop input suppliers. Top-level findings:

#1  More than half of respondents in nearly every market are using or recommending biocontrols in 2014…

Broken down by crop area, a commanding percentage of respondents (low 80s) in ornamental plants and flowers markets use or recommend biocontrols, followed by vegetables (mid 70s), fruits and nuts (upper 60s) and citrus (low 60s). On a smaller respondent base, slightly more than half of respondents in cotton, and slightly less than half in field corn and soybeans, report use of biocontrols.

#2  …And the numbers are higher heading into 2015

Across all markets a higher number of respondents than for 2014 say they will “definitely” or “probably” use / recommend biocontrols in 2015. In field corn and soybeans the number jumps to nearly 80% for “yes, definitely” or “probably” will use / recommend in the coming growing season.

#3  Performance of biocontrols is largely up to expectations

In aggregate across all markets, more than 40% of respondents who have used or recommended biocontrols said products have performed “about as I expected,” while nearly 30% reported “better than I expected.” Roughly a tenth or less reported “worse” or “somewhat worse” than expected. This pattern largely stays consistent across crop areas.

#4  Sustainability programs lead as the primary reason or benefit for using biocontrols

The order of primary reason or benefit for using biocontrols differs by crop area but consistently comes up as the top five of: sustainability programs, product effectiveness, resistance management programs, organic programs and managing pesticide residue levels.

#5  Opportunity for education: Lack of product knowledge is tops as reason for NOT using biocontrols

Among the roughly one-third of total respondents saying they currently do NOT use or recommend biocontrols, about 60% say their reason is that they “don’t know enough about biocontrols to use them effectively,” followed distantly (in the upper teens of percentage points) by “I think traditional crop protection products work better than biocontrols.”

#6  Effectiveness, cost efficiency are biocontrol suppliers’ next challenges

What would cause growers to increase their use of biocontrols in their pest management programs? Not surprisingly, respondents who both use / recommend and DON’T use / recommend biocontrols across crop areas cited product effectiveness and cost efficiency as chief factors.

Complete results of the survey will be available in March 2015, with an overview during the opening session of the Biocontrols 2015 Conference & Tradeshow on March 4, 2015, in Fresno, CA.