A research project in the field of biological crop protection


A research project in the field of biological crop protection

17Jun 2018

Together with the Beuth University of Applied Sciences Berlin we are running the multi-year research project as tree nursery Lorberg:

"Development of a system for biological plant protection management to ensure high plant quality in the production chain of trees and shrubs for urban areas".

The aim of the cooperation is to strengthen the vitality of plants naturally by cultivating them together with their natural species-specific beneficial organisms.

Because: trees in urban areas are exposed to a multitude of negative influences everyday, which can affect growth, appearance and health. Drought, pollutants and salty soils often weaken the tree, making it more susceptible to insect pests and diseases.


A biological alternative for long-term health


Biological crop protection is bsed on the natural process of pest control via  ‘beneficial organisms’. This includes living creatures such as ladybirds, predatory mites and various bird species that feed on insects that are harmful to plants.

These beneficials thus help to naturally reduce the number of aphids, spider mites, rust mites, etc., which can otherwise weaken the plants and impair their natural protection against diseases. In order to increase the population of beneficial organisms in the nursery, we pursue these goals:

1.          The reduction of herbicides and pesticides in plant production

2.          Creating habitats for insects

The focus of this research project was therefore as follows: sowing a species-rich, perennial herb mixture between the rows of trained trees and shrubs on our grounds. Underseeding with clover, phacelia, marigold and other wild flowers enables the reduction of pesticides in production and also provides the beneficial organisms with food and shelter.



The course of reasearch and results


The Spring of 2015 marked the beginning of this research project, with the cultivation of 1200 linden trees (Tilia europaea'Pallida') in three rows at the Tremmen production site. In the first quarter, a standard lawn mixture was used as undersown crop, in the second a species-rich herb mixture, and the third quarter was laid out as a control row. Here the soil was only mechanically kept free of vegetation. Plant protection agents were largely dispensed with.

In these areas, the extent to which different crop management affects plant health and growth as well as the number of beneficial organisms was then investigated.

After one year in our nursery, the trees with a species-rich herb mixture as undersown crop showed the most beneficial organisms, the smallest number of pests and the weakest symptoms of damage.

This result motivated us to invest more time and energy in the right composition of the seed mixture and to design it optimally for nursery production. The height of the herbs and the beneficial species they contain are important factors in finding a practical mixture for use in the nursery.



Up to this day we have sown out more than 50 hectares of this seed mixture in our nursery to feed and shelter beneficial insects.

We are pleased that with this research in cooperation with the Beuth University of Applied Sciences Berlin we can make a contribution to the reduction of conventional crop protection products. We are also optimistic about the next step in this project, "Do the supplied beneficials make it easier for the plant to establish itself at its new location?”