The Roundup -

Jaronski Teaches Workshop in Ecuador


Jaronski showed students all the steps in producing and applying microbes as a natural insect control agent during his two week workshop in Ecuador. Here he demonstrates how he grows the microbe on grains of wheat.

Following an invitation, Stefan Jaronski who is a Research Entomologist with the USDA-ARS NPARL in Sidney, conducted a two week workshop on developing microbes for use as natural pest control agents in Ecuador.

During his time in Ecuador, Jaronski showed attendees the whole process from selection of candidate microbes (viruses, bacteria, fungi, nematodes), through mass production, to application and inset pest management.

The workshop consisted of 10 labs and 10 lectures, each of which lasted three hours, each day. Due to the language barrier, Jaronski had to have a translator as his Spanish is not good enough to conduct a full class.

The audience was a mixture of indigenous family farmers, faculty and students from various Ecuadorian universities, government scientists, as well as staff from several Ecuadorian biopesticide companies. The lecture portion had 35 attendees, with the lab portion being limited to 20 attendees as the workspace was smaller.

Workshop attendees got hands on experience in every step. Jaronski went to Ecuador a week early to get all the steps set up. As he explained, it was like a cooking show where every step is already done, so the participants gets hands-on experience with every step..

The whole trip came about last year when Jaronski was invited to consult on the research programs of the Ecuadorian counterpart to USDA's Agricultural Research Service. The Ecuadorians are very interested in building their own infrastructure for microbe production, not only for crops destined for their own use but also for export to U.S. and Europe, such as roses and bananas. The microbes are for use against plant diseases as well as insect pests. As a result of last year's visit Jaronski was invited by an Ecuadorean university to teach the workshop.

The Ecuadorian government wants to limit chemical pesticides and is really pushing for alternatives such as microbes, especially fungi that attack insects. Jaronski explained these fungi acting like a "fatal athlete's foot of insects." All these microbes are specific pathogens of insects, or plant diseases, and do not affect humans or animals.

Many Ecuadorians attended Jaronski’s two week workshop. Attendees included university students and faculty, biopesticide companies, as well as indigenous farmers. A few of the attendees are pictured here studying the microbe under the microscopes during a lab session.

Fungi have been known for hundreds of years, yet didn't come back until the 1970s. Although the use of chemicals is a quicker process, it costs millions of dollars to even get one chemical commercialized.

Due to the cost difference between the production of chemicals and the mass production of microbes, many countries turned to the microbes many years ago.

Many of the indigenous farmers in Ecuador want to keep everything biological. Although the biggest indigenous farm is around two acres, they are popular and supply produce to the community.

Their interest in the use of microbes has escalated to the point that Jaronski may be going back to Ecuador next year to train them more and to help set up a facility for the indigenous Indian farmers, where they can produce their own microbes rather than purchase them.

Although Jaronski works for the NPARL, he has "lots of fingers in lots of pots", as he put it. He has been asked to assist or consult in various different situations concerning using microbes to control insects, including work at MSU-Bozeman, NDSU, Republic of Georgia, Senegal, in the Azores and now Ecuador.


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