The BHU Future Farming Centre

Information - Crop Management - Production

Mesh crop covers for potato blight and pest control

Disclaimer, copyright and licensing

Sign up to the FFC Bulletin and/or Events notices

The BHU is selling 3.7 meter wide, 0.6 mm hole mesh as a service for home gardeners, lifestyle blockers and market gardeners.  Larger widths (up to 13 m) and lengths (200 m) and smaller hole sizes (0.3 mm) for commercial producers are available from www.seedandfield.co.nz .

Commercial growers / farmers - if your considering testing mesh please contact me This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 021 0231 8901 as I can probably save you a lot of time and money and happy to have a short chat at no charge. 

Introduction

Research on the use of mesh crop covers on potatoes started at the Future Farming Centre in 2011 focusing on the control of tomato potato psyllid (TPP, Bactericera cockerelli).  The intial work, in 2011-12 and 2012-13 quickly demonstrated that mesh was a highly effective method for TPP control, and, it produced the most surprising and serendipitous observation that mesh reduced potato blight.  Subsequent work in 2015-16 and 2016-17 has focused on the blight effect and also the problem of aphids penetrating mesh.  The 2015 to 2017 research is currently being written up - the main field trial report is now finished which showed impressive yeild, quality and profit benefits of mesh over agrichemicals. 

Media coverage - wide range of media coverage from multiple outlets

2011-12 First year laboratory and field trials - extension publication and journal publication.  Includes the first result of mesh reducing potato blight and TPP and general information about mesh and how to make the metal anchor stakes.

2012-13 Second year field trial - extension publication and journal publication.  The second years trials compared two mesh types with a null control and demonstrated significant increase in yields and dramatic reduction in TPP populations. 

2015-16 Third year of trials - The effect of UV light on blight and TPP, plus 'ultra fine mesh' - reports to be published over winter 2017

2016-17 Fourth year of trials - Mesh Crop Covers for Non-Chemical Potato Pest & Disease Control: Final results from the 2016-17 Field Trial of Mesh vs. Agrichemicals, August 2017. Report number 8-2017.This is the first time that mesh has directly been compared against the best agrichemical regime under full commercial production conditions and has unambiguously show that mesh generates higher yields and dramatically increased profit, compared with chemicals.  This is the first time that mesh has directly been compared against the best agrichemical regime under full commercial production conditions and has unambiguously show that mesh generates higher yields and dramatically increased profit, compared with chemicals.  (The interim report has been withdrawn as the final report contains a range of new and updated information as well as being reordered to make it more user-friendly.  If, however, you need a copy of the interim report please contact Merf at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with the reason you need a copy.)

2017 Mesh crop covers for pest control in commercial crop production.  A short report that explains the history of mesh crop covers, their benefits and their current use in commercial production.

Warning about potato aphids penetrating mesh.

The 2016-17 field trials found that potato aphids have been penetrating the mesh (see the above report for details).  The dilemma is that the mesh is working exceptionally well at keeping TPP off potatoes, and reducing potato blight, and improving yield but if aphids get through the mesh then their populations can build up to very high levels due to the mesh keeping beneficial insects out.  The current solution, as used by commercial organic growers is if aphids do get in, lift one end of the mesh up to allow the beneficial aphid predators and parasitoids in.