Liceo Marta Martínez Cruz incorporated, for the first time, a sample of biological controllers to counteract agricultural pests, thanks to the implementation of the project “More sustainable and safer agriculture through innovation in agricultural schools in vulnerable areas: forming SMEs to produce beneficial insects ”, Executed by the Institute of Agricultural Research (INIA) and with financing from the Maule Regional Government, and the participation of SNAEduca.

As every year, the Marta Martínez Cruz High School carries out the traditional Open School in order to publicize the academic offer of the establishment to students interested in training as medium-level Agricultural Technicians. This is achieved with the participation of the Lyceum students, who show the different activities they carry out every day.

The novelty was presented this season, when the "production of biological controllers" was incorporated into the specialization alternatives. These are beneficial insects produced in large quantities in "mini-factories" to be sold to farmers, who release them in their fields to control pests in a more natural way.

The theoretical and practical knowledge on how to produce these natural enemies of insect pests has been provided by INIA Quilamapu, through its Technological Center for Biological Control (CTCB), especially by the entomologist and project director Luis Devotto. The equipment necessary for this production was acquired with resources from the Maule Regional Government, through a project financed by the Fund for Innovation and Competitiveness (FIC).

Víctor Campos is a former student of the Marta Martínez Cruz de Yerbas Buenas High School and was recently hired to take charge of the production of insects in the establishment. "At first I did not know very well about the subject, I had very general notions about biological monitoring and control, but after two weeks of training at INIA I have discovered a very interesting area of my profession that is very little known," he said.

Through a stand, the visiting students were shown the plans of the Lyceum in biological control of agricultural pests and three of the insects that will be produced in the pilot module or Laboratory for the production of natural enemies, emphasizing the advantages of using biological controllers. In this regard, Campos indicated that “many of the visitors also showed their surprise when they learned about this technology, since most of them were unaware of its existence, as I did before joining the project. Many were happy that this type of activity took place in the Maule Region ”.

Meanwhile, the director of the Lyceum, Cristian Rivas, delved into the subject adding that “this project, carried out in conjunction with INIA, is the first step in a broader planning, aimed at positioning ourselves as a benchmark in terms of integrated pest management. So, starting this process by adopting and teaching biological control leaves us on a very good footing for, in the medium term, expanding the facilities and the supply of biocontrollers.

About INIA

The Instituto de Investigaciones Agropecuarias (INIA) is the main agricultural research institution in Chile, dependent on the Ministry of Agriculture, with a national presence from Arica to Magallanes, through its 10 Regional Centers, as well as technical offices and experimental centers in each one of the regions of the country.

Its mission is to generate and transfer knowledge and strategic technologies on a global scale, to produce innovation and improve the competitiveness of the agri-food sector.

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