Novel microencapsulation of fungal spores for major crop pest control and more effective Integrated Pest Management procedures

Lead Participant: Bionema Limited


"Crop losses from pest attack continue to be a major agricultural problem. Western Flower Thrip (WFT) and Black vine weevil (BVW) cause economic losses in high value horticultural crops internationally. European combined losses from virus transmission and direct feeding damage by WFT is estimated at £550m pa, with worldwide costs over £6.0bn. BVW alone causes annual losses of £40m to UK; \>£4.0bn+ worldwide.

Current approaches to control are often inadequate. No individually effective control measures exist for WFT and BVW and growers/producers must use combinations of techniques - IPM - for adequate control. These don't reliably provide control levels required and losses can be considerable. In addition to implementation issues - education, time, cost, complexity, two other major challenges exist:

1)WFT is adept at developing resistance to chemical insecticides, while increased regulation makes BVW control difficult due to removal of Chlorpyrifos (organophosphates) from the market in 2016\. There is increasing consumer led retailer demand for growers to reduce or eliminate the use of chemical pesticides (and residues) in crop production.

2)Current biopesticides have significant limitations including: need for low temperature storage (cost/complexity in supply chain); low adhesion to the pests during application (low efficiency); limited relative humidity range for germination and establishment (\>95% RH; reducing efficacy); low germination rates after adhesion (low efficacy); greater sensitivity to application conditions (reduced efficacy).

New solutions to pest control are urgently needed including more effective tools within IPM systems to improve effectiveness. Bionemas' innovative technology will produce biopesticides that have easy distribution (ambient temperature); high efficacy; reduced number of required treatments (reducing costs); optimised for available application methods; wider applications for fungal disease control.

This will be achieved by developing novel processes for microencapsulation of fungal spores, which will: maintain biological stability of fungal spores stored at ambient temperature; create a micro-environment to retain water to enable germination; enhance their adhesion to plant surfaces. They will have a dramatic impact on improving agricultural productivity.

This IUK grant will facilitate the raising of investment funding into Bionema and result in significant sales 5 years after product launch. Additional impacts include enabling Bionema to address \> £500m+ global market opportunity; £100m reduction in annual UK horticultural crop losses due to WFT & BVW; potential simplification of growers IPM programmes; reduction is usage of chemical pesticides; creation of approximately 15 new jobs by 2020; meeting increasing consumer demand for reduced chemical pesticide use."

Lead Participant

Project Cost

Grant Offer

Bionema Limited, SWANSEA £569,678 £ 398,775


University of Birmingham, United Kingdom £195,403 £ 195,403


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