Biorational Approach: Quality Checklist

As much as 95% of all Bt applications are made on conventional acres, about 5% on organic. But the grower’s need is the same within both systems: reliable and consistent control of worm pests without the fear of developing resistance. Regardless if you’re growing organic, conventional, or both, quality control is critical for products that meet the challenges of each application. Among Bt products and biorational products in general, DiPel and XenTari are regarded as the industry standard for product quality and consistency. That means that growers around the world apply these products with great confidence. The following are guidelines to use to ensure you are getting the best quality from your applications:

  1. Use the Best Products. Since quality control begins with the very first input, when considering purchases, only use the highest quality bacterial strains. Product quality means a product that is free of contaminants that can cause unwanted effects. VBC continuously and thoroughly evaluates suppliers for quality and reliability and all its vendors are required to certify that their products meet strict quality specifications.
    1. Product Testing: VBC actively performs more than 100 measurements of 15 to 20 key process parameters during the fermentation process to ensure products are not contaminated. Tests include air flow (Bt needs oxygen to ferment), back pressure in the reactor vessel, agitation (to provide proper aeration to the culture, and other proprietary traits.)
    2. Cleanliness: Cleanliness is critical in fermentation manufacturing. Contaminants can lessen the efficacy or even destroy a production run, by retarding the development or otherwise harming the microorganisms that do the actual work.
    3. Bioassays: These are specialized lab tests on insects or nematodes to measure the pesticidal activity of products as they are manufactured. VBC’s vast experience with microbial products has yielded very specific data on how products should perform after each stage of production.
    4. Product Purity: Unwanted contaminants in a final product can have a devastating effect on a crop. VBC employs proprietary processes both in the fermentation and recovery stages to ensure that its products meet stringent purity standards.
  2. Ask About Your Supplier’s Process. VBC is unique in that it produces its products to meet pharmaceutical grade standards. These standards are significantly more strict than what most manufacturers employ, and are the driving force behind the quality and consistency of the company’s products. When discussing product attributes with a potential supplier, consider product history, selected strains, raw materials, how products are tested and quality assurance.
  3. Consider Field Performance. To realize the benefits from any microbial product, consistent pesticidal activity has to be the starting point. Effective and consistent field performance is the pathway to other market advantages microbial products bring. If you’re not sure a product will work, any residual benefits are inconsequential.
  4. Choose the Right Product For Your Needs. Used alone or in combination or rotation with traditional insecticides, Bts will control specific pests in your field. Through the selectivity of Bt toxins, some Bts show specificity to caterpillar species in the order Lepidoptera, while others target beetles in the order Coleoptera. Seek advice on the product that’s right for your crop and your pest problems.
  5. Choose the Right Formulation. To enjoy the advantages of Bt technology, one needs a formulation that makes the product easy to use. Always choose products that come in a number of formulations to suit a variety of cropping, pests, application equipment, environmental conditions, user preference, and cost requirements.
  6. Get Support. A grower who invests in microbial products should have access to a highly trained sales and technical staff with a history of personalized, long-term commitment to customer service.
  7. Consider Economics. Cost is a critical factor in a grower’s decision to purchase inputs. The bottom line is that when used correctly, Bt products ensure a return on investment by reducing total costs. Pest populations are controlled, while beneficial levels are maintained. Sprays may be reduced. Other products last longer. And most importantly, crops thrive and market windows are opened.