How does vacuuming contribute to pest control in soilless tomato crops?

Use of vacuuming for physical pest control in protected crops

How does vacuuming contribute to pest control in soilless tomato crops?
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Vacuuming for physical control of pests in crops is already used in heated glasshouses in south-eastern France. As no specific equipment is currently available, growers are developing their own. The development of such a device would help to make its use more widespread.

Published 01/06/2023

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

Search for complementary protection methods

In soilless tomato cultivation, some pests such as whitefly or Nesidiocoris tenuis that are present in the south of France, are extremely difficult to control. The available methods, whether chemical or biological, are sometimes insufficient to control them on crops that are present 10 to 11 months of the year. Faced with these difficulties, physical protection methods have been developed: sticky panels and strips, in addition to those installed in the greenhouse, are attached to harvest trolleys in order to trap pests during cultivation operations. Currently, some growers are also equipping their greenhouses with vacuuming devices, which are mounted on the harvest trolleys. The device they usually use is a leaf or dust vacuum, handled by an operator, that sucks up the pests directly from each plant in the greenhouse. This limits the development of subsequent generations through active trapping. The challenge for the industry is to have an effective technique against these very problematic pests. Physical control has the advantage of being complementary to Integrated Biological Protection (IBP) and of being applicable to different pests and different protected vegetable crops.

The different vacuum devices used

A survey was carried out by the CTIFL with four soilless tomato growers located in the South-East of France in May and June 2019. In order to homogenise the way in which the interviews were conducted, an interview guide was drafted in collaboration with the network of technical advisors present in the PACA region (Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur). This survey is not representative of the practices of soilless tomato growers because it is a qualitative study. The objective was to inform the experimenters about the devices used for vacuuming, and to identify the producers' motivations for using this technique as well as the conditions of use in order to guide the research on the development of a vacuum prototype.

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