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Glenn develops eco-friendly plant protection

Glenn Svensson, a researcher at the Department of Biology, recently received 2,1 million Swedish kronor from the Swedish farmers’ foundation for agricultural research and from Formas. The grant will be used to develop a scent-based biological pest management for strawberries. The project is already successful and the exact pheromone that the researchers wanted to find have been unveiled.
Glenn Svensson preparing bait for the pheromone traps.
Glenn Svensson preparing bait for the pheromone traps. Photo: Jan Olsson

The strawberry tortrix (Acleris comariana) causes great damage to strawberry fields every year. Strawberries is a valuable crop and spoilt berries mean severe economic loss for farmers. When strawberry tortrix’ invade a strawberry field the berries look ugly, become small and the harvest is not good. The consequence is that the strawberries are harder to sell and the farmer lose money.

Glenn Svensson at the Department of Biology runs a successful project where researchers use pheromones, scents, to confuse the strawberry tortrix males so they can not find the females. The males and the females won’t mate and there will be no reproduction.

The research project might lead to the end of chemicals in strawberry fields. Glenn Svensson’s green, environmentally friendly pest management could in the future replace chemicals. One gram of the identified pheromone could be enough to protect two acres of strawberry plants.

A pheromone trap in a strawberry field.
A pheromone trap in a strawberry field. Photo: Glenn Svensson

Another way to use the scent is to place pheromone traps in the fields in order to discover when the insect begins to fly. In this way the farmer can start to use traditional chemical pest management at the exact time when it is needed, and does not have to use it for a long period of time before and after the strawberry tortrix is active just because the farmer suspects it is. This method would also lead to less chemicals used on strawberry fields.

Acleris comariana caught in the trap.
Trapped! Photo: Glenn Svensson

The Swedish farmers’ foundation for agricultural research received 24 applications for projects regarding integrated pest management. Only four of them were approved of. Glenn Svensson’s project was one of the four. He received 2 132 092 Swedish kronor.

Jan Olsson

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