The Biopesticide Solution

Are Biopesticides the Future of Insect Control?

Written by Alex Reid
Posted March 29, 2012

I don’t think it’s a secret as to how much I detest Monsanto and its inherently harmful products.

Unfortunately, most farmers cannot escape Monsanto’s hegemony without using tons of potentially harmful insecticides. However, Marrone Bio Innovations (MBI) may have found a solution to that problem in the form of biopesticides.

Biopesticides offer a number of benefits, including:

  • Alternative modes of action to traditional products, which makes biopesticides an important part of most integrated pest management programs.

  • Minimal impact on the environment and humans.

  • Exempt from tolerances making applications flexible.

  • High degree of worker safety.

  • Can extend the life of traditional chemicals so fewer chemicals are used.

  • Adds value to growers in both traditional and organic farms.

As of now MBI has four available products: Regalia, Grandevo, GreenMatch EX and Zequanox.

Regalia helps treat fungal and bacterial diseases in plants. It works by turning on the plant’s own natural defense systems. When these systems are firing at full strength, a whole medley of fungal and bacterial diseases is almost rendered non-existent in a given crop. In fact, MBI’s research states plants treated with Regalia produce and accumulate high levels of proteins that combat these maladies. Regalia can be used on almonds, blueberries, citrus, grapes, leafy greens, tomatoes, peppers and walnuts.

Grandevo is the first of broad-spectrum bacterial insecticide introduced in 60 years. This biopesticide contains an ingredient called Chromobacterium subtsugae, which can do away with insects that both suck and chew on the plant, such as stinkbugs and psyllids. Grandevo works by making the pest stop feeding on the plant and die shortly afterwards. In 2011, Grandevo was available as a liquid for citrus and vegetables in Florida, but this year it will be available as a dry formula to be available nationwide for all manner of crops.

Weeding is one of the most time-consuming aspects of daily life on a farm. Trust me, I know firsthand having worked on one. MBI’s new weed control biopesticide GreenMatch EX can help eliminate weeds. And its non-toxic and biodegradable. It controls most annual and perennial weeds. Its effectiveness stems from the active ingredient Lemongrass oil, which is very powerful. Lemongrass oil strips away the waxy cuticle of the weed’s leaves, causing wilting, dehydration and eventually death. And unlike other oils, GreenMatch EX combines the Lemongrass oil with other oils that makes the effect last longer. GreenMatch EX can be applied virtually anywhere, even environmentally sensitive areas without wreaking havoc like other weed killing formulas.

Recently, MBI has branched out to creating biopesticides that work on aquatic pests. Zequanox is an environmentally compatible solution for controlling several different species of mussels. Zequanox is derived from a naturally occurring microbe that focuses its attack on zebra and quagga mussels without harming anything else. In fact, Zequanox is essentially composed of dead cells that, when ingested by the mussels break down their digestive tracts and kill them. Absolutely no harm is done to the surrounding environment and non-target species.

These four products are just the beginning. MBI is currently researching and developing an array of biopesticides that will hopefully render traditional pesticides extinct.

Considering the hive collapse crisis of the honeybee having been linked to pesticides, non-invasive and environmentally conscious biopesticides are looking better and better all the time.