`Study on Fruit Fly Control Wins Research Award

Europe

Study on Fruit Fly Control Wins Research Award

Feb. 1, 2016
Erin Ridley

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Span­ish olive oil pro­ducer Castillo de Canena has awarded their third Luis Vañó Inter­na­tional Research Award to a study focused on an effi­cient, eco­nom­i­cally viable and envi­ron­men­tally friendly method for olive fruit fly con­trol. The win­ning study was car­ried out by the Uni­ver­sity of Córdoba’s AGR 163 research group, and the Inter­na­tional Cam­pus of Food and Agri­cul­ture (ceiA3).

Fac­ulty of the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia at Davis and the Uni­ver­sity of Jaén were invited by Castillo de Canena to par­tic­i­pate in judg­ing the papers sub­mit­ted for the com­pe­ti­tion. Four mem­bers from each uni­ver­sity formed the two juries that assessed the papers inde­pen­dently.

The win­ning paper val­i­dated a promis­ing new method for man­ag­ing the biggest prob­lem fac­ing olive grow­ers world­wide.- Dan Flynn, UC Davis Olive Cen­ter

Dan Flynn, exec­u­tive direc­tor of the UC Davis Olive Cen­ter, told Olive Oil Times that he and Juan Gómez, the rec­tor at the Uni­ver­sity of Jaén, were pleased that the two juries scored the papers very sim­i­larly.”

The win­ning study, which spanned four years, explored the use of a fun­gus called Metarhiz­ium brun­neum — a nat­ural enemy of the olive fruit fly — as an organic alter­na­tive to destroy­ing the unwanted insects called Bac­tro­cera oleae.

Used on farms with con­ven­tional cul­ti­va­tion meth­ods, the study’s solu­tion man­aged to reduce the den­sity of fly pop­u­la­tion by 50 per­cent: an impor­tant find­ing given that dam­age done by olive fruit flies can result in up to a 40-per­cent loss in pro­duc­tion.

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University of Córdoba researcher Enrique Quesada Moraga

Explained Flynn of the poten­tial impact of the research, The win­ning paper val­i­dated a promis­ing new method for man­ag­ing the biggest prob­lem fac­ing olive grow­ers world­wide.”

Euro­pean grow­ers have been under pres­sure to seek alter­na­tives to address the prob­lem after a 2014 direc­tive on the use of sus­tain­able insec­ti­cides. Mean­while, Cal­i­forn­ian pro­duc­ers are eager for other options, too.

Cal­i­for­nia olive grow­ers are keenly inter­ested in find­ing new tools that are effec­tive, sus­tain­able, and afford­able in man­ag­ing the olive fruit fly,” said Flynn. I expect that many grow­ers will be will­ing to use the soil treat­ment method offered by the win­ning paper.”

The researchers of the study will receive their award, along with €6,000, at Castillo de Canena this April, when the paper’s find­ings will also be pre­sented in a bilin­gual pub­li­ca­tion.

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