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Safj Sa Fruit Journal Sati Epns Featured
October / November 2023

EPNs using nature to fight nature

SA Fruit Journal: October / November 2023

Significant progress has been made to commercialise a local EPN isolate – a potential biopesticide product. By Prof Antoinette Malan and Dr Murray Dunn

After many years of research, and with funding support from the main industries (citrus, deciduous fruit, and grapes), significant progress has been made to commercialise a local entomopathogenic nematode (EPN) isolate that has the potential to be used as a biopesticide product.
EPNs are multicellular organisms, or more precisely, microscopic round worms, which offer an environmentally friendly "tool" for pest management in crops.

Although their effect is not as dramatic as that of chemicals, EPNs are highly effective in the soil environment, because they deliver a continuous ecosystem service in the background by the prevention of flare-ups of key insect pests and supress sporadic insect pest problems. Numerous local and international studies have demonstrated their efficacy against a wide variety of insect pests. Benefits of EPNs are that they are non-toxic to the environment, safe to handle and have only a negligible impact on nontarget insects. Thus, they offer a sustainable pest control option; a case of using nature to fight nature.

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