Bt Value: The Big Picture

With nearly 40 years of proven performance in the field, Bt’s ability as effective pest control is well known. Pest management professionals will also tell you biorationals demand morework best with careful management.

Extra management time can equates to better timed and fewer applications, and lower populations for the balance of the season. It means improved economics in tank mix or rotation since Bts are very affordable. It also means unparalleled resistance management capabilities that extends the life of other important chemistries. It means no residues, and the lowest allowable re-entry interval. It means confidence and peace of mind.While Bts have long been a mainstay in production agriculture, adoption continues to rise due to the unique combination of benefits Bts bring. It’s an equation especially relevant for today’s growers: efficacy, economics, and residue management benefits that deliver value to suppliers and buyers alike.

When evaluating return on investment (ROI) for a program using Bts, the sum of these many benefits is what makes the proposition unique. In today’s crop systems, though, it’s their effectiveness in other key areas, such as avoiding residue, managing resistance, and field work flexibility that are bringing bottom line benefits to more and more growers every season.

Avoiding Residue
“It’s a cost-effective bioinsecticide,” says Max Jehle, pest control adviser for Sunview vegetables in storeVineyards in California. “Bts have improved our bottom line because we can achieve the same thing, with the same amount of control, with a very safe material, without all the issues.”

Jehle says that for Sunview, a key benefit is the global acceptance of Bt-treated produce. As postharvest residue tolerances become more and more stringent, the value of Bt goes up. “You don’t always know where your produce is going,” he says. “When using this material, you don’t worry about residues. Worldwide, it’s a safe material.”

Field Work Flexibility
Worker safety and re-entry interval (REI) is another key benefit. Labor can be one of the toughest things a grower has to manage, and pest pressure doesn’t always emerge at the most convenient time. A program including Bt can provide flexibility when many other materials can’t. Workers can get right back in the field just four hours after a Bt application – the lowest REI allowable by law. The same dynamic applies to late season applications required just prior to hand harvesting.

Resistance Management
It’s true that programs including Bt often cost growers less than programs that rely heavily exclusively on other materials, but the resistance management benefits of Bt aren’t always directly linked to dollars and cents.

“That’s one of the things we’re always telling our growers,” says University of Florida Vegetable Extension Specialist Dr. Stephen Olson. “You’ve got some new product out there but if you abuse it, you’re going to lose it. Very quickly. If we want to keep these products as effective tools, we’ve got to use rotation.”