NZ: Mesh cheaper than chemicals in stopping potato psyllid

Charles Merfield with mesh which is more successful in warding off pests than chemicals.Scientist Dr Charles Merfield believes he has the answer to solving the problem of the potato psyllid, which costs growers about $10 million a year. Trials using mesh to cover the crops have shown an “astonishing” reduction in numbers of the insect, which delivers a damaging bacterium to the plant and tubers, causing major production losses. Not only does the mesh ward off the insects, it is about $1000 per hectare cheaper than chemicals, and increases yields by 12 per cent, so that gross margin profit rose between 27 to 75 per cent. “The economics are just amazing.  If this is not a stunning win for the New Zealand potato industry I don’t know what is,” Merfield, who is based at the Future Farming Centre at Lincoln University, said. “The result is utterly stunning, it is effectively complete control of potato psyllid. In comparison achieving complete control of any insect pest on crops with agrichemicals is nigh on impossible.  That this can be achieved with a non-chemical approach is even more heartening as it also addresses the spectre of insecticide resistance.” More