EcoPesticides International, Inc., a New Mexico start-up company developing novel biologic-based pesticides and encapsulation technologies, has signed a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service (ARS).
Under the agreement, the USDA’s Pest Management Research Unit in Sidney, Montana, will conduct joint research with EcoPesticides to further develop and validate the field efficacy of the company’s UV-protectant microencapsulation technology. The intent of the technology is to extend the potency, and thus the effectiveness, of the encapsulated biopesticide in controlling grasshoppers and other crop-destroying insects.
The principal investigator for the USDA-ARS is Stefan Jaronski, Ph.D., a research entomologist and noted authority on the biocontrol of rangeland grasshoppers, which are responsible for significant crop losses in the United States and globally. The USDA-ARS has conducted considerable screening of possible UV protectants of biopesticides, and in the process, determined the significance of UV on fungal persistence. While the USDA-ARS has developed realistic evaluation systems for UV protectants, it lacks the UV-protectant technology developed by EcoPesticides, which appears to be practical and economically feasible.
EcoPesticides President and CEO Les Stewart said the CRADA brings together complementary expertise and creates powerful synergies toward achieving a shared goal: more effective, environmentally friendly crop protection. “Our encapsulation technology shows great promise in shielding biopesticides from the harmful effects of UV and extending the window of effectiveness in fighting insect pests. The opportunity to work with Dr. Jaronski, who has conducted many grasshopper field trials using fungal strains, has the potential to accelerate development of our UV-shielding microencapsulation technology.”
Added Stewart, “Such an advancement could hasten the adoption of biologic-based pesticides, which do no harm to anything but the target pests, and enable farmers to move away from chemical pesticides, many of which have unintended consequences and can be toxic in soil, water, and the environment at large.”
The joint research commenced at the USDA-ARS lab in Montana in January 2015. The anticipated outcome is the identification of the optimum, practical formulation for EcoPesticides’s microencapsulation technology for use against grasshoppers and other foliage pest insects.
Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) are written agreements between a private company and a government agency to work together on a project. Created as a result of the Stevenson-Wydler Technology Innovation Act of 1980, as amended by the Federal Technology Transfer Act of 1986, a CRADA allows the federal government and non-federal partners to optimize resources and share technical expertise.