Stockbridge Technology Centre (STC) based at Cawood, Selby, North Yorkshire, helps ensure continued technological developments for the crop production industry. It’s formation has created an independent centre of excellence for the agri-food sector supported by both the production and supply sectors.

Latest News

Work has begun to build a new Biopesticide Facility at Stockbridge Technology Centre.

CHAP’s Biopesticide facilities are expanding with the development of a new biopesticide testing centre at STC in Yorkshire. The first turf has been dug to build a new glasshouse facility dedicated to the independent evaluation of existing & novel biopesticides.

The new CHAP capability at STC, with support from Innovate UK, has been designed to provide a specialist, but flexible, facility for the independent and comparative evaluation of a wide range of biopesticide & bio-control products under optimum conditions to generate robust data for registration purposes and to showcase their efficacy for industry. The new unit will also incorporate a replicated test facility for evaluation of pesticides & biopesticides in deep water hydroponics. It will comprise 60 discrete, independently recirculating, hydroponic tanks which can be used to evaluate various cultural, chemical or biological treatments for efficacy against root & other pathogens in various crops, including lettuce, herbs & cut flowers. It also provides an excellent facility to better understand rhizosphere interactions under different environmental regimes e.g. differential solution temperature, oxygenation, nutrient status & recirculation rates as the roots are accessible due to the lack of a physical substrate for this system of culture.

As a result of increasing costs in the development of new pesticide active ingredients as well as regulatory & other pressures on existing older actives, it is getting more difficult to create robust pest, pathogen & weed control strategies. But the need is greater than ever because of the limited availability of the remaining crop protection products. This is most noticeable in the specialist or ‘minor use’ crop sectors where the development and integration of anti-resistance products are proving particularly difficult owing to the limited active ingredient choice.

Not surprisingly, there is increased interest in the use of alternative ‘biopesticide’ products that can be incorporated into spray programmes to reduce the number of conventional spray applications.  Potentially, such products should also reduce the selection pressure for pesticide tolerant strains in the pest/pathogen population.

One of the major stumbling blocks associated with the registration of bio-pesticides is securing robust biological, including efficacy & crop safety data to support product labels and without access to dedicated fit-for-purpose facilities it, at best, delays product registration and, at worst, prevents product use in key crop sectors. This new facility at Stockbridge will help plug this gap.

 

Why is there a need

Agricultural practice is gradually evolving to reduce the use of synthetic crop protection compounds through the use of integrated pest management (IPM) strategies.  This shift is partially due to changes in legislation, including the introduction of the Sustainable Use Directive (SUD), partially through the increased environmental responsibility of land-owners but also due to increased customer desire for pesticide-free produce.  Globally the synthetic plant protection market is worth over $50 billion annually.  The bio-pesticide market is currently estimated to be worth $3billion, but is expected to increase in size to $4.5 billion by 2023 and is expected to continue to growing as it replaces a wider range of synthetic products as these are revoked due to environmental and other concerns.  However, there are many challenges associated with getting optimal/reproducible results from these products but dedicated bio-pesticide research facilities remain scarce.   This asset will improve the capability for conducting applied research on biopesticides to help develop robust control measures and aid their registration and ultimately increase farmer & grower confidence in their use.

 

What is the Asset

The asset will comprise a a purpose-designed & built glasshouse with a flexible array of compartments using moveable partition walls to suit different trial designs and allow flexible environmental manipulation and control to suit the needs of both pests & pathogens but also to suit the bio-control agents themselves.  The aim is to create a new bio-pesticide facility that will meet the R&D needs of this rapidly growing market.   It will comprise dedicated sprayers for both conventional pesticides and biopesticides and also include specialist hydroponic systems for pesticide & biopesticide application to the root zone of these crops.

 

How it can help the agricultural sector

The market for biopesticides is expanding considerably and this facility is likely to be of interest to those, including some of the multi-nationals, marketing novel products, as they are required to develop registration dossiers for regulatory purposes both in the UK and elsewhere. The ability to minimise variation in data on biopesticides will provide considerable advantage as previous work has been significantly hampered by such variation leading to delays in registration/approval. It is anticipated that UK farmers & growers, through the levy boards, will be also interested as this will be the primary route for industry involvement with biopesticides in the future.  A new 4 year project ‘SCEPTREPLUS’ commissioned by AHDB aims to screen alternative biopesticide products.  This facility with the additional capability for screening products in a range of different hydroponic systems will be particularly advantageous for some crop sectors.

 

If you want more information on this asset, or book a tour of our facilities or discuss a potential collaboration with us, please contact:

Dr Martin McPherson, Director of Innovation & Technology
Email : martinmcpherson@stc-nyorks.co.uk

Dr David George, Director of  Science
Email : david.george@stc-nyorks.co.uk

Dr Phil Davis, Head of Plant Physiology & Lighting
Email : phillip.davis@stc-nyorks.co.uk

STC Office telephone no. is +44 (0) 1757 268275