Vegetable mix shows pest control promise in Taiwan

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Vegetable mix shows pest control promise in Taiwan

In response to demand for tighter food safety practices, the Taiwan Agricultural Research Institute (TARI) announced it has made progress in cultivating cucumbers without the use of pesticides.Plant Oil

In a conversation with, TARI's Dr. Yu Zhiru spoke about the institute's new vegetable oil technology and its possible applicability to farmers cultivating a number of food crops.

"The core technology is to truncate the possible invasion of crop pests," Yu said.

"The different crops have different ways of specific operation. We use cucumbers as an example. In the net installations on site, we can isolate a lot of pests, leaving behind only insects that can be put under control with the use of a vegetable oil mix.

"Before planting, we use weeding and flooding to eliminate pests. Then if the crop is well managed afterward, we won't have a significant problem. If not, we will normally apply the vegetable oil mix so there is not a problem with crop maturity."

If applied well, Yu said this method con match the costs of standard pesticides. The potential cost benefits grow considering that many pests may become resistant to pesticide treatments. Yu explained that such resistance can force growers to increase the quantity of chemical treatments.

"In comparison, pests will be less prone to resistance, which means the cost will be less than with the use of pesticides," Yu said.

The researcher said the technique arose from a contamination study carried out by the Taiwanese Department of Health between 2010 and 2012. The study selected the top 10 fruits and vegetables with greatest pesticide residue, including beans, peas, sweet peppers and cucumbers.

"We first chose the crops with the most pesticide residue for experiments. We don't want farmers to use excess pesticides on these products, as much for the environment as for consumer health," Yu said.

"We are currently using the material available on the market, such as the vegetable oil mix that began to be sold at the beginning of 2012. There are other materials that entered the market earlier. Now I have transferred the technology from the vegetable oil mix to three Taiwanese factories for production and wholesale uses."

Yu said the technology is still taking off in Taiwan, but he encouraged producers to trust the product.

"This is just the start of a big advancement. Currently, the acceptance rate with growers is high but the use not so much," he said.

"We have the material. The question now is how to establish a standard operating procedure so that farmers can follow it as an example."

Through the technology's development, Yu said the team has consulted with growers for feedback.

"After the operation is successful, we will open dialogue to interested farmers and associations so they can come and learn," he said.

Similar product testing has been carried out on strawberries, while trials are in the works for Indian jujubes. For strawberries, TARI group leader Gao Jinghua said six or seven farmers had used the method successfully for two to three years.


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