I was fortunate enough to attend the Annual Biocontrol Industry Meeting (ABIM 2015, http://www.abim.ch/home.html ) last week. The meeting is organised by the IBMA, a ‘trade association representing manufacturers of biocontrol solutions’.
For those interested in biological control, the meeting is a great place to find out about new products and – perhaps less exciting but no less essential – to find out what is happening with progress towards registration of those products for use on our crops.
When on the web to double check the meaning of various acronymns –ABIM, IBMA, DG Sanco etc etc I noticed a headline from Eurofresh that followed an item about the IBMA, published in the spring of this year, that said “Rising tide in biocontrol demand, solutions”.
Certainly phrases like ‘rising tide’ and ‘wave’ are appropriate for the rate of change in the sector. A speaker at ABIM noted that membership of the organisation had doubled in 12 months and the number of delegates attending the event had tripled, to 830.
A few weeks before I visited the Italian trade show, Macfrut. The show is more ‘retailer facing’ than most fruit trade-shows I have attended. There are stands representing many processing, packing companies and marketing companies. It soon became very clear that products and systems with a positive connection to words like eco, bio, green and clean were dominant.
Many would suggest that regulations in Europe are not moving fast enough to help growers to ride the best part of this wave but it is clearly very difficult to come up with regulations that satisfy the needs all organisations and people within such a large and diverse community.
One of the most interesting topics is how ‘abiotic stress’ influences the development of diseases. Under tunnels we are able to control climate to a great extent than outside. This gives us at least some control of one abiotic stress factor but I doubt if many of us really understand the many ways in which these stresses impact on yield. One speaker also spoke about ‘fungal consortia’ by which she meant groups of different species and strains working together to influence nutrient uptake or disease expression. I have been made very much aware, through blueberry die-back project work, that what we see as disease symptoms often don’t have a single cause.