Real IPM, Kenya, 23 January 2016 – part 2

Today is our last day in Kenya and we are back with Henry and Louise. During our last visit we did not see the microbe production and packing process so this morning Henry took us around the site.

First we saw the boiler. This heats the greenhouses with Macadamia nut shells.

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Then we looked at the production of phytoseiulus. This is a predatory mite that is used in various applications in things like rose production and is Real IPM’s biggest seller. To produce a predatory mite you need to first produce its prey. So the first greenhouse we saw was producing the prey which is red spider mite.

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They produce the prey on beans. Interestingly they plant beans with trichoderma, another product of theirs and don’t get soil disease problems with beans after beans. The next greenhouse we went to is where they have the predatory mites. They infect the beans with the prey and once the predators have eaten most of the prey they harvest them. They get about five crops a year of phytoseiulus. They produce about 40 million per week off 8ha of greenhouses

Once harvested they go to quality control:

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This where they literally remove all contaminants so it is 100% phytoseiulus. Below Gordon is checking their work:

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Once they have been checked they are cooled down for transport. Different customers want the product in different numbers and packaged. The Kenyan market wants them in the tubes below:

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In each each tube is about 1-2000 predators. They reuse the tubes a number of times. They produce seven different types of predatory mites

We next looked a fungus production. They produce metarhizium of various types, which are fungi that eat the stages of certain insects that are in the soil. This could have great potential for the UK. They grow the fungi on rice bran:

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Once the fungi have eaten all the bran they are processed

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They are sifted and dried

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Then they are formulated and sold in bottles

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ICIPE, the research organisation, has 300 isolates of metarhizium of which they do not yet know all of their functions. Real IPM has a bioprospecting team who are actively looking for new microbes which may be useful.

Another thing they do is testing of other people’s products for the Kenyan authorities . This is why they have a greenhouse of roses to test products’ efficacy.

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Henry and Louise have been amazing hosts for us. They fed us, housed us for five nights and also gave us contacts to see around Kenya. Without them our visit would have been a lot harder. They are also two really dynamic people with a fascinating business. One I would recommend everyone to come and visit.

Many thanks to Henry and Louise.

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AndrewHoward

AndrewHoward

Andrew Howard farms 345ha in a family partnership near Ashford, Kent, growing winter and spring wheat, winter and spring oilseed rape, spring oats, spring barley, winter barley, and field beans. His soils range from heavy weald clay to light sand. Andrew is a committee member of BASE UK, and member of LEAF and the Institute of Agricultural Management. As a Nuffield Scholar, Andrew will study companion cropping around the world.

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