Biological Control

Supporting the UK Cucumber Industry

‘Biological control’ is a method of managing pest and disease populations in crops by utilising their natural enemies rather than synthetic chemicals. British cucumber growers have been using biological control agents for over 30 years and can proudly claim to be world leaders in the field.

Biological control is usually used as part of an integrated pest management (IPM) programme.

While largely based on biological techniques, IPM also draw on physical and cultural control measures integrated with strategic applications of target specific and short persistence pesticides. There are now many biological products available to growers including parasites and predators, as well as fungi, nematodes and bacteria. Physical controls include the use of screens, traps and barriers, while cultural controls make use of tolerant cultivars, good hygiene practices and manipulation of the growing environment. The key to success is to understand how to use these products singly or in combination to maintain the pest populations below economic damage thresholds.

Encarsia wasp attacking a whitefly scale

The CGA has worked with the HDC to produce a ‘Crop Walkers Guide’ which illustrates the common pests, diseases and biological control agents.