How A Greenhouse Grower Reduces Pesticide By 75%


A large international greenhouse grower uses the ecoation platform to to improve their IPM program, resulting in decreased pesticide use, reduced input costs, and a higher yielding crop.



Before

Prior to ecoation, this grower frequently saw pest outbreaks in their tomato crop. To control pest populations, the greenhouse tirelessly tried to make their IPM program work, however when a major pest outbreak occurred, the greenhouse had to control the situation with chemical pesticides. This would force the grower to reapply beneficials to establish a new balance. This imbalanced cycle would repeat several times throughout the season. Its reliance on pesticides had consequences, including:

  • Adverse effects on the environment and potentially hazardous conditions for workers

  • Reduced photosynthesis efficiency, lowering plant productivity and reducing potential yield

  • Death of biological control agents, forcing the grower to re-establish their bio population which comes with a higher cost

  • Higher input costs and the labor requirements with each pesticide application

  • Increased total pest management costs


Solution

After

Within one season of collecting high quality data, the team was able to achieve:

  • 75% reduction in pesticides across 15 acres

  • Better plant productivity

  • Significant reduction in the total cost of administering their IPM program

One of the challenges of managing pests and diseases using IPM techniques in a greenhouse is that pest populations can get out of control very quickly. If the balance between pests and biologicals is changed, the pest population can get out of control in just a few days. The only solution to control pest outbreaks in these scenarios is to use a chemical spray to bring down the pest population and then establish new biologicals. This pesticide use brings harmful effects on users and the environment, and the spray also has negative effects on plants and lowers the production rates.


By digitizing grower knowledge and closely analyzing information using real-time data from the ecoation IPM Forecasting platform, this grower was able to achieve a 75% reduction in their pesticide use compared to the previous season. This remarkable reduction in pesticides was achieved by empowering a skilled head grower with a historical data set and pest population forecasting capabilities. Using these tools, the grower was equipped with better planning and more precise execution for the next season.


As a greenhouses recognize that horticultural data in the hands of the right grower is incredibly powerful and is core to the promise of technology driving sustainable food production. The key to successful technology integration in agriculture lies in building trust and clear communication between tech providers and farmers. Only then can data be used to its full potential and make a real impact on businesses.


As part of ecoation’s knowledge sharing, this grower was able to work with the ecoation Customer Success team to find trends and anomalies within the data set. Agricultural intelligence takes a shared effort to generate and matters only if it is actionable by a grower. Through careful observation of the map and automated graphing, it was easy to identify where the whitefly population was concentrated in the greenhouse. It was discovered that one section of the greenhouse with interrow lighting was where the pests were most concentrated. With this information, this grower was able to make more efficient decisions on how to address future pest issues.


Instead of waiting for whitefly pressure to build, the team was able to act earlier in the season and increased the rate of biological controls in the problematic section of the greenhouse. Jefferson logged onto the ecoation dashboard daily and followed real-time trends around pest pressure development. The ecoation Customer Success team also analyzed data and highlighted trends in a weekly call. Under this close watch, whitefly damage was reduced to less than 4% of the total greenhouse area, a major improvement compared to previous seasons.


The use of insecticides and fungicides was found to have decreased by 75% after comparing the treatment plans from the previous season—an outstanding accomplishment for any farm.

There are numerous benefits to reduced pesticide usage: reduced plant stress, increased photosynthesis, reduced input costs, reduced labor for spraying, and a safer environment for workers. One rule of thumb is that for every week that farms spray the crop, you will lose 10% productivity in that area. With the peace of mind that empirical data can provide, growers can withhold pesticide applications until absolutely necessary. By scouting 40% of the greenhouse every week with the OKO machine, This achievement offers an example to other greenhouses on how to prevent pest outbreaks for improved plant health with the right technology partner. Because of these measurable benefits, this customer has vastly expanded the usage of the ecoation platform across its multinational operation.


 



Are you a greenhouse pepper or tomato grower looking to more accurately forecast yield in your greenhouse? The ecoation IPM and Yield Forecasting Platform have been proven to help.


Take the first step in seeing how the technology works. Click here for your demo.


 

About ecoation:


Established in 2010, ecoation is an award-winning Canadian AgTech Service provider with a forecasting platform that provides actionable insights on IPM, crop balance, and growth as well as yield and production metrics which helps growers multiply their success while having more control and visibility into their operations. With customers all over the world, ecoation is one of the fastest growing AgTech Companies in the Controlled Environment Agriculture sector.


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