A partnership between Russell IPM Ltd and Keele University is reducing crop damage by major insect pests

A partnership between Russell IPM Ltd and Keele University is reducing crop damage by major insect pests

Keele-UniversityCase study by Keele University


The collaboration between Russell IPM and Keele University spans back to 2004 and is currently centred on two economically important insect pests, thrips and whiteflies, and includes work to control thrips on strawberries via mass trapping.

Both the company and Keele University academics Gordon Hamilton and William Kirk have significant expertise on pheromones, which resulted in discussions on new ways to improve pest mass trapping combining both trap improvements and pheromones.

Globally, economic losses from thrips and whiteflies are estimated in hundreds of millions of dollars, which has consequential impact on growers’ ability to supply our everyday demands for fruits and vegetables. Innovative solutions, including improved trap designs in combination with pheromones, play an important role for enhanced control of these pests.

Russell IPM is the market leader in providing customerfocused solutions for the everyday problems facing growers and pest controllers. The company designs and manufactures pheromone lures, traps and bio-pesticides for customers worldwide and their core expertise is in behaviour-modifying insect pheromone and natural material-based bio-pesticides.

“Nowadays, growers try to use more sustainable defence methods, so we always try to develop our portfolio and offer better solutions” explains Dr ShakiAl-Zaidi of Russell IPM. Russell IPM is an innovation-led business, which has a dedicated team focusing on development of technology-led and more effective products. In recognition of the company’s outstanding performance Russell IPM was awarded the Queen’s Awards for Enterprise: Innovation and International Trade in 2011 and 2012. With 97% of research being recognised as being world leading or of international importance (REF,2014), Keele University’s track record of working with the private sector to seek solutions to business problems can focus research questions.

Applying solutions and evaluating their outcomes has led to significant commercial impact for research that originated in the laboratory, as shown by REF outcomes and impact case studies. Dr William Kirk and Prof. Gordon Hamilton have extensive knowledge and experience in thrips and whitefly research and the partnership between Russell IPM and Keele University is so successful because it is based around the need for innovation to tackle business need via the transfer of cutting edge research from the knowledge base.

This long lasting collaboration and search for innovative products for mass trapping resulted in a recently established Knowledge Transfer Partnership project. The project involves and builds on the work of a Keele University PhD graduate, Dr Clare Sampson, who is now a KTP associate, with the objectives to translate the research results and company ambitions into tangible outputs and outcomes.

Professor Mark Ormerod, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Enterprise and institutional lead for Environment and Sustainability, said: “Keele has a long established reputation for its research excellence in agricultural chemical ecology and this long-term relationship with Russell IPM, and the current KTP, exemplify the applied nature of Keele’s expertise and the benefits of collaborative partnerships with business.

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