General Commendations

Prof Bruce’s tribute on behalf of the AAB

"Dr Rob Jacobson is a leading light in the IPM community. His extensive experience, from having worked on cutting edge developments in both the public sector and the private sector, bridges the divide between academic theory and industrial practice. Not only is he aware of basic IPM principles, such as the first and second line of defence (SLOD) concept he has developed, but he is also able to formulate situation specific IPM plans. Furthermore, Rob has an awareness of the policy context of plant protection. Examples of his success include development of “banker plants” to maintain populations of biocontrol agents and devising effective management plans for the invasive pest, tomato leafminer (Tuta absoluta). He played a key role in organising the Association of Applied Biologists (AAB) Biocontrol and IPM Group and served as convenor of the Group for 6 years. He organised, very effectively, 11 IPM-related conferences for the AAB over 12 years to 2016. These began as separate Biological Control and Biopesticides events but have been amalgamated since 2012. This fact in itself is an example of how Rob is an integrator and can pull together the big picture as “well as tease apart fine details. The conference has evolved into the current series of AAB 'Advances in IPM' conferences which have become firm fixtures in the UK's conference calendar and probably form the UK's foremost IPM event."
Prof Toby JA Bruce PhD FRES
School of Life Sciences, Huxley Building, Keele University, Keele, Staffordshire, ST5 5BG, UK.

Completed R&D Projects

Examples of some completed IPM projects:


A novel mating disruption technique against Tuta absoluta

Due to the development of resistance to some important IPM-compatible insecticides in 2015/16, it became clear that British tomato growers urgently required additional control measures to use against this devastating pest. Working on behalf of the British Tomato Growers’ Association with AHDB funding, Dr Jacobson organised successful trials using the novel mating disruption product, Isonet-T. Read More (PDF) »

"Towards the end of the 2015 growing season, we ‘inherited’ a Tuta population that was already resistant to spinosad. We struggled through the 2016 season experiencing some very worrying levels of damage by the pest. Moths were caught on traps between crops and mines were found on the new plants at the start of the 2017 season. The mating disruption trial with Rob Jacobson started in January 2017 and we didn’t see any further crop damage that season. It is now a year on and we are still clear of the pest. This has been beyond all expectation."
Richard Bezemer (Jan Bezemer & Sons, North Yorkshire, UK)

Pollination issues in UK tomato crops

On behalf of the British Tomato Growers’ Association, Dr Jacobson organised an in-depth survey of British growers to obtain a clearer understanding of the issues leading to poor fruit set. Growers representing 98% of the UK tomato production area participated in the project. Read More (PDF) »

"Rob Jacobson is one of very few people in the UK who successfully bridges the gap between scientists and commercial growers. He has been involved with pollination by bumblebees since their earliest use in our crops and was an obvious choice to do this work on behalf of the TGA. The results have provided a foundation of knowledge upon which we can now build a practical research programme."
Paul Faulkner (Treasurer, British Tomato Growers’ Association)

IPM in Australian tomatoes

A recently completed joint project in Australia began with a feasibility study in 2012 and will end with the client implementing biological pest control techniques across 30 hectares of speciality tomato crops by the end of 2016.

"We have known Rob for over 3 years and even though we are at opposite ends of the planet, we would not have got this far with IPM without his help. His passion and dedication together with his experience in an ever changing environment is and has been invaluable to us. We will be forever grateful and we would be happy to recommend him to anyone considering a similar journey."
Oliver Flint – General Manager – Costa Group Holdings

Working with growers in New Zealand

While working in New Zealand in 2014, Dr Jacobson provided guidance to help protected edible crop growers fine tune and improve their pest control programmes

"It is mid-summer now and we are clean from whitefly because of you. We are over the moon. Thank you."
Bert van Geffen (Great Lake Tomatoes Team)

Culture packs for predatory mites

Dr Jacobson was part of the team at Bunting Biological Control that developed the original culture pack system for Amblyseius cucumeris. This was a major breakthrough in biocontrol and has since been adopted worldwide for the control of western flower thrips.

"The development of this IPM system enabled us to continue to grow cucumbers cost-effectively in the UK despite the presence of western flower thrips."
Trevor Broekhuizen (Chairman of the Cucumber Growers' Association)

IPM Strategy for Tuta absoluta

The leaf, stem and fruit mining caterpillar, Tuta absoluta, arrived in the UK in 2009 and rapidly became established on several UK tomato nurseries. Working with Wight Salads Group, Dr Jacobson embarked upon an intensive research project which developed an IPM control strategy by 2013.

"The speed with which a solution was found to this devastating pest was truly impressive. Dr Jacobson’s detailed approach to tackling this problem demonstrated again just how valuable he is to horticulture in the UK. His persistence to find the best approach is never in doubt."
Roly Holt (R&L Holt)

Managing Macrolophus predators

In 2006, Macrolophus was considered to be the most important pest of organic tomatoes in the UK with losses estimated to be in excess of £75k per hectare per season.

"After controlling pests, the predator attacks trusses causing premature fruit drop. Dr Jacobson developed a method of managing the predator population so that we could have the benefits of biocontrol without crop damage"
Dr Phil Morley (TGA Technical Officer)

Using nematodes as a second line of defence against leaf mining pests

Working in association with Horticilha and Becker Underwood, novel methods of using entomopathogenic nematodes to support primary biocontrols were developed against the leaf mining pests, Tuta absoluta and Liriomyza bryoniae.

"This innovative work created completely new opportunities to realise the potential of our biocontrol portfolio."
Gareth Martin (Technical Manager, BASF Agric Specialities)

Hyperparasites & intraguild predation

Biocontrol of aphids has been fraught with problems and remains one of the main stumbling blocks for IPM in vulnerable crops such as sweet pepper.

"We now know that there are at least 10 species of hyperparasites disrupting our biocontrol of aphids as well as other issues with predators attacking mummies. Dr Jacobson and Prof Bruce (Rothamsted Research) have shown that a better understanding of hyperparasitoids searching behaviour could provide a solution."
Gary Taylor (Chairman of Pepper Technology Group)

Using biopesticides as second lines of defence in IPM programmes

In any IPM programme, it is important to have products to back up the primary biocontrols. Target specific chemical insecticides have traditionally been used in this role but these are gradually being replaced with biopesticides.

"Our work with Dr Jacobson has shown how the fungus, Beauveria bassiana, can be as effective as chemical pesticides in supporting predators against spider mites in glasshouse crops."
Dr Dave Chandler (world expert on entomopathogenic fungi)

IPM of Lygus bugs in cucumber

Sporadic invasions into cucumber crops can cause serious damage to the growing points of the plants. Steve Clarkson (ex CGA Chairman) was one of the growers most seriously affected by the pest.

"Dr Jacobson, working with East Malling Research, developed an effective warning system based on pheromone traps so that we could more accurately time our actions."
Steve Clarkson (ex CGA Chairman)

Robust IPM programme for organic tomatoes

Prior to this project, it was estimated that pest attack cost the Wight Salads Group about £1.05m/yr and IPM related costs were double that of conventional crops. This project improved the cost-effectiveness of Macrolophus, mealybug and leafminer controls.

"The novel technologies were implemented in commercial crops with unprecedented speed for publicly funded research. This resulted in substantial savings to our business."
Paul Howlett (Head of Agronomy, WSG)

Added-value from biocontrols

As a spin-off from an HDC project, Dr Jacobson developed innovative methods of collecting large numbers of Diglyphus, Phytoseiulus and Macrolophus from areas of surplus in commercial crops for redistribution in areas of need.

"The collected biocontrols are more effective because they are already conditioned to the tomato crops."
Brian Moralee (UK Growing Manager, WSG)

Pollination and IPM in all year round tomatoes

UK growers have been working towards all year production using supplementary lighting when natural light is limiting. Initially, biological pollination and biocontrol of whiteflies were limiting factors

"This award-winning project halved the cost of the IPM programme and solved the initial pollination problems."
Philip Pearson (Group Development Director, APS Salads)

Cucumbers with supplementary lighting

Between 2003 and 2007, Dr Jacobson was Project Leader for the CGA’s AYR cucumber production project which broke all UK records with 312 cues per m2 per year. Derek Hargreaves and Paul Dudley provided agronomy input.

"Production was phenomenal but the unforeseen escalation in energy cost meant few growers would subsequently risk the required investment in infrastructure."
Rob Bezemer (HDC Project Co-ordinator)

Improving spray coverage

Biopesticides usually depend on contact action and so good spray coverage is essential. This was particularly the case in a wide bed growing system in organic peppers.

"Dr Jacobson and his associate, Dr Roderick Robinson, redesigned our spray rig, built a prototype and greatly improved our control of aphids."
Dr Neal Ward (Technical Manager, Cantelo Nurseries)