A core research program at the Institute for Sustainable Horticulture (ISH) is the development and commercialization of microbial biopesticides. The program was designed to address a gap in availability of microbial biocontrol products in Canada. Its goal is to put more biological products in the hands of end users and contribute to the sustainability of agriculture and landscapes. Facilities include a 600 m2 research lab and production building opened in 2009, and a 600 m2 research greenhouse opened in 2011.
A significant gap in environmentally protective pest management products is addressed by this research program. The first, identified early in the establishment of ISH, is the gap between research on new microbial biopesticides and the very low number that achieve commercial product status. Public sector research has historically focussed on discovery, with neither the objective nor the mandate to commercialize new products. Good potential products are lost between discovery and commercialization. Our research facilities includes a commercial production “incubator”, which along with a mandate to take a product from research to commercialization and adoption, makes this program unique in the public sector in Canada. It holds the potential to address many of the impediments to development and availability of microbial biopesticides.
Other bioproducts with potential value to landscapes and agriculture are also studied at the Institute. These are being developed from waste stream recovery processes, natural plant extracts and microbial organisms by industry. The challenge for companies is to develop the best products possible for their target markets. The challenge for the end-users, is determining what is the real value of a new product and how can it be incorporated into growing practices. We work with both groups of industry partner to help define the benefits of these products and develop aspects which are most valuable to the end users.