Agri-Tech research and development company B-hive Innovations has been successfully awarded funding to investigate methods of detecting and mapping wireworm populations to help manage this very damaging potato pest.
Awarded by the Farming Innovation Pathways (FIP), as part of its industrial competition, the partners have received £241,000 to develop technologies for visually detecting where wireworm populations may be present underground, prior to planting.
The insect infestation typically goes unnoticed until harvest, by which point it can be too late and not possible to salvage the plant. Using the funding, B-hive Innovations will work alongside Branston and Barworth Research to help arable farmers to make more informed decisions when planting crops.
David Nelson, agronomy director at Branston, said “We are delighted to have secured this funding as we look to investigate how we can help improve methods of wireworm detection and use this information to make better management decisions and reduce often devastating crop losses.
“Wireworm is an issue that affects a variety of crops across the UK, but there are few chemicals that are approved for treatment and those available are very expensive. New solutions can take years to be approved before launching to market, so developing technologies that predict likely damage levels will help target control measures and reduce levels of wireworm damage to tubers at harvest”.
The grant funding – which is delivered through the ISCF Transforming Food Production programme, in partnership with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) – is designed to enable solutions that solve the industry’s ongoing challenges of productivity, sustainability, and achieving net zero emissions.
Once completed, B-hive’s research will be used to develop innovative solutions that can be integrated across the sector.
Vidyanath (Vee) Gururajan, managing director at B-hive Innovations, said: “We look forward to commencing this research project in partnership with Branston and Barworth Research.
“This funding is a huge boost for our research and development and will ensure real progress is made in countering wireworm. Our project will add to our growing portfolio, as we look to continue developing more innovative solutions for reducing food waste and raising the productivity of potato growing”.
For more information about B-hive Innovations, visit www.b-hiveinnovations.co.uk.