PheroSyn, the company spun-out from Rothamsted Research to develop and produce novel pest pheromones, has been awarded an Innovate UK grant to develop the supply chain for a new set of insect pheromones.

The grant of around £200k will be used by PheroSyn to design scalable routes for two new products that target midges and weevils – key pests for legumes such as peas and beans. Working with PheroSyn on the project is the UK Processors and Growers Association (PGRO), the UK’s leading legume agronomists.

Over 18 months, the partners will establish manufacture, validation and distribution of the novel products for use by farmers to enable a smarter application of pesticides. Efficacy assessment of the pheromone products in trapping and monitoring populations of midges and weevils in legume production systems will be undertaken by PGRO following their synthesis by PheroSyn.

Midges and weevils are significant global pests of legume food production. Their management is problematic, and the food harvest can potentially be exposed to pesticides when targeting specific stages of their life cycles, leading to possible contamination of the human and animal food chain.

“We are delighted to be starting this next stream of work on pea and bean insect pest pheromones”, said Daniel Bahia, Business Manager at PheroSyn. “There is a growing global trend away from reliance on chemical pesticides in food production in favour of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategies.

“Demand for our existing pea and pear midge pheromone products has been clear, and this grant allows us to accelerate development of the next range of products, leading to affordable, safe to eat food in a way that promotes zero carbon agriculture.”

“We are really pleased to be working with PheroSyn to help develop IPM tools for growers and to ensure a sustainable future for UK legumes”, said Becky Howard, R&D Manager at PGRO.