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Tuta absoluta: a problem to be reckoned with

An information day promoted by the Sicilian Region Agriculture Department within the PAN-National Action Plan for the sustainable use of plant protection products and the promotion of good agricultural practices. On Tuesday 19 February 2019, an information day on Tuta absoluta (Tignola del pomodoro), one of the most harmful pests to tomato cultivation worldwide, took place in Marzamemi Pachino.

It was a public moment of confrontation between all the players in the supply chain that saw among the participants: farms, IGP Pomodoro di Pachino Consortium, private technicians, Order of agronomists of the province of Syracuse, University of Catania, Regional Phytosanitary Service, Sicilian Region Agriculture Department.

Approximately 200 farms and technicians gathered, this testifying to the considerable interest generated by the problems linked to the spread of this micro-epidopter known as the tomato moth.

In the introductory greetings, Michele Giglio, director of the Syracuse Agricultural Inspectorate, reiterated the commitment of the public service in the application of the PAN, with the training of consultants, users of plant protection products and the organization of field tests for the correct use and distribution of crop protection products. “The challenge for everyone is to work each one carrying out his or her own task to help increase producers’ awareness that health and environmental sustainability are the new paradigms of development”.
The president of the order of agronomists of the province of Syracuse,

Francesco Gurrieri, spoke of the new figure envisaged by the PAN, the consultant in defense, who will be able to accompany farmers in the transition from traditional agriculture to the new agroecology.

Salvatore Lentinello, the newly elected president of the Pachino tomato IGP protection consortium, expressed his vision of the consortium “the role we are called to play is that of protection, starting from our social base, that is from our farmers. We hope that technical meetings of this thickness are more numerous, the massive presence of farms is proof that this is the right path. Cohesion must become the extra weapon of the territory to favor their technical and entrepreneurial growth “.

Giuseppe Marano of the SFR, opening the meeting: “Ten years ago we organized together with the University of Catania a real Task Force to tackle the Tuta absoluta problem. We held a series of meetings, also producing informative notes and supported the registration of suitable molecules for the control of the microlepidoptera obtaining important results. Yet after 10 years how can we still talk about an emergency, what went wrong? “

The professor. Gaetano Siscaro of the University of Catania emphasizes the high invasiveness of the phytophagous which is a worldwide problem. “The species has generated over the years strains resistant to insecticides, and also in consideration of this phenomenon, chemical control alone is not the solution for the containment of its populations. At the beginning there were few authorized active substances, today 16 are available. active ingredients belonging to 13 different chemical groups. Despite this, how was it possible to verify such a rapid selection of resistant populations? Is it necessary to apply integrated pest management. Why is monitoring no longer carried out? There is no lack of tools but they have been clearly managed bad”.

Prof. Lucia Zappalà: “There is no single solution, there are many solutions that must be put into practice. We have studies in progress on Nesidiocoris tenuis. This omnivorous predator, in addition to feeding on numerous pests of the crop, is it can also nourish the plants. If on the one hand these bites, as has been proven, are at the origin of an induction of the plant’s defenses, on the other hand they can be harmful to the crop under certain conditions. tested alternative plants and it was found that sesame is more attractive to N. tenuis than tomato. The birds produced by the plant were analyzed and tested individually to evaluate their possible use as attractants in the field. These activities, together with others on the sustainable management of T. absoluta, are carried out within the STomP projects (funded by the ERA-NET Arimnet 2 program) and BIOPIC (PRIN2015 of MIUR) “.

Giacomo Purromuto of Syngenta Italia S.p.A. “50% of the effectiveness of a crop protection product depends on the technology and good application practices which, once the current regulatory obligations (functional control) are met, represent a fundamental tool for maximizing the biological efficacy and profitability of treatments in full compliance with the operator, safeguarding the consumer and the environment “.

Sebastiano Vecchio of the Regional Phytosanitary Service, spoke about the export of the Pachino tomato to Canada. Since 2016 the phytosanitary requirements for export have changed, in particular the exclusion of the green parts (peduncle, pedicel and calyx) was requested by the Canadian phytosanitary services, to prevent the insect from arriving in Canada. exports to this country are blocked. Now we are waiting for a new agreement between Italy and Canada that will allow our producers to resume exports, following the new protocols still in progress.

Vincenzo Divelli, after outlining the Tuta problem in the various countries where he is present, recalled the Spanish model, where companies are organized in aggregations, accompanied by valid technical assistance that allows them to face the defense of Tuta absoluta by applying sustainable techniques. . “Our farmers move exclusively on an individual basis – reiterates Divelli – and there is a strong need for the role of the consultant”.

Sebastiano Barone, new director of the IGP Pomodoro di Pachino protection consortium, made a historical excursus of greenhouse cultivation in the Pachino area, born at the end of the 1960s with the viticulture crisis. With the passage of time the structures evolve from the wooden initials to metal ones today. Thanks to associations, which had come to involve 70% of the companies, the whole tomato sector is growing up to the recognition of the IGP designation of origin. In recent years, however, we are witnessing a strong involutionary phenomenon : aggregation decreases and individualism grows.

Salvatore Francavilla, the technical designer of the IGP Pomodoro di Pachino protection consortium, talks about the projects presented with Measure 16.1 of the 2014-2020 Sicily PSR, one concerning Tuta absoluta and a second concerning the health properties of tomato. Furthermore, he points out that with the next measure 1.2 it will be possible to activate technical assistance actions for companies.

Some agricultural entrepreneurs then intervene in the debate, including Concept Calabrese and Guglielmo Zisa, who highlight the problem of opening greenhouses. It is emphasized that from April onwards Tuta absoluta becomes particularly aggressive and then the isolation experienced by producers in the face of real problems, hence the need to have super partes reference points.

Antonio Biondi researcher at the University of Catania, recalls all the measures that can be implemented to try to reduce the number of treatments and delay the opening of the protection nets as much as possible. He reiterates that we must work with all the tools available to us, including: use of pheromones, destruction of crop residues, repellent substances, etc. The researcher also underlines a very important aspect: “we need to prepare for other phytosanitary emergencies similar if not more harmful than T. absoluta, as other insects and parasites of other nature may arrive both for climate change and for the effects of globalization. Therefore, learn to deal with this pest with an integrated and sustainable strategy of containment of its populations, will allow farmers to arrive better prepared to face possible new emergencies “.

Giuseppe Marano concludes the meeting by saying that there are no decisive news for the defense against Tuta absoluta, and although the Regional Phytosanitary Service has recently committed itself to the extension of use as an “emergency use” of a new active substance that will shortly will be available on the market, this or other active substances will not be able to represent the solution of the problem. Tuta absoluta can only be controlled by implementing the principles of integrated defense with great rigor and discipline. In other words, paying close attention to prevention and adopting adequate strategies, in other words wisely using all the means currently at our disposal that were discussed during the meeting. We undertake to prepare a specific information leaflet to indicate the best practices of integrated defense to be adopted for the control of the parasite. Furthermore, it is necessary for everyone to do their part and therefore also for greenhouse growers to actively collaborate not only by scrupulously applying the principles of integrated pest management but also by providing research through technical assistance with indications regarding their own difficulties and needs. Associationism is fundamental to face this and other emergencies, individualism does not help to become aware of one’s real needs and risks generating “do it yourself” attitudes that can prove to be very harmful.

Corrado Dipietro (In the photo on the side) interviewed at the end of the meeting underlines the commitment of his company in combating Tuta absoluta: “For the Area Verde, Area Verde Vivai and Casa Verde Italia group, this information day – Corrado specifies – is very We have been operating for more than 30 years in agricultural services, in collaboration with the Faculty of Agriculture of Catania, the Agricultural Inspectorate of Syracuse and the observatory for plant diseases of Acireale. In synergy with the technical group we have worked on a project aimed at the control and monitoring of the Tuta Absoluta, an insect that today is bringing the greenhouse sector to its knees. We are projected towards innovation and in this sense Dr. Dario Dipietro of the Area Verde group is developing in partnership with Viroplant a project concerning the new frontiers of biotechnology applied in agriculture “.

fonte: freshplaza.it

Tuta absoluta: a problem to be reckoned with
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