Ultraviolet Light absorbing films and nets for insect and disease control in an organic greenhouse
Organic greenhouse production of vegetables in the Southeast can be difficult. High temperatures, humid conditions and an almost year-round production season encourage disease and insect development. Insect pests can directly damage production and insects can also serve as vectors, like the whitefly, and cause economic loss.
Because of the high value of organic crops, greenhouse production can be economically viable if pest control methods continue to be developed. Any pest control method that adds to the arsenal available to certified growers is one more tool to help them produce organically.
Ultraviolet (UV) light absorbing polyethylene films and netting have been suggested as a method of reducing the entry and dispersal of insects and the spread of virus diseases. Researchers in Israel evaluated vegetable production in walk-in tunnels of UV absorbing materials and found reduced numbers of insect pests and virus’ they vector. They attribute this to the fact that the screening out of UV light with wavelengths of 280 to 380 nanometers is thought to interfere with the insects’ vision and ability to orient themselves in the crop.
This project will be used to conduct on-farm greenhouse trials on the effectiveness of UV screening to reduce insect damage in the Southeast. Results of these trials will be made available through the University of Florida’s Extension Digital Information Source (EDIS) as well as presented at Extension and producer conferences and workshops.