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  • Author or Editor: Ekkehard Scobel x
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Since the 1900s, diatomaceous earth (DE) has been used as an alternative to chemical insecticides in stored product protection. New silica and DE formulations offer expanded possibilities for use in horticultural crops. However, many crop pests are found on the leaf underside and this is especially challenging when using silica because the substance must have direct contact with the insect to be effective. We tested three application techniques with three formulations of silica to evaluate their efficacy against different developmental stages of mustard leaf beetle (Phaedon cochleariae Fab.) and the cabbage worm of the large white butterfly (Pieris brassicae L.) on the host plant species pak choi (Brassica rapa ssp. chinensis L.). Formulations were applied manually with a powder blower, with an electrostatic spray gun, and in a closed chamber also working with electrostatic forces. The silica formulations used in the biotests were Fossil Shield 90.0s®, AE R974®, and a formulation developed at Humboldt University Berlin called AL-06-109. All formulations contained at least 60% silicon dioxide. Significant differences in efficacy were detected with different application methods and/or silica formulations. AL-06-109 electrostatic cabin-applied was the most effective combination. All formulations, if applied electrostatically, resulted in good coverage and in high plant protection against insect pests. Dusts applied manually were unevenly distributed and easily removed by wind from leaf surfaces. Electrostatic application with a spray gun resulted in even particle distribution on plants, but overspray was high. To accomplish even coverage without wasting so much active material, an enclosed mobile chamber with an electrostatic spray system and an attached exhaust system was developed.

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