For the past thirty years, the company Savéol Nature – based in Guivapas, Brittany – has been growing select species of insects alongside their crops. The types and number of insects to be bred depend on reproduction cycles as well as on the plant varieties grown in the greenhouses. Such farming has equipped Savéol Nature with its own means to fight against harmful species of insects and to ensure effective pollination in a purely organic manner.
The story began in 1983, when Savéol Nature president Philippe Léon had the vision to limit the quantity of phytosanitary products used in agriculture through the propagation of certain species of insects that prey upon pests. Today, nearly 100 million of these ‘auxiliary’ insects are distributed to 120 vegetable gardeners in place of pesticides and insecticides in order to combat harmful insects. The result is a healthier, more sustainable product that takes less time to produce and that poses fewer health risks for the producers and consumers.
Savéol Nature has specifically targeted the whitefly: a notorious pest of the tomato and strawberry plants. Two insect species – heteropera (stink bugs, water bugs) and wasps – are particularly voracious predators of the whitefly, and Savéol Nature has raised them with the specific goal of protecting these fruit cultures in their greenhouses. Of course, they don’t draw the line at pest prevention. Bumblebee nests are also introduced into all of the producers’ greenhouses at the first sight of blooming, where they stay throughout the season to proliferate through maximal pollination.
The company is continuing to expand, having recently built a new 1.5 square acre facility that permitted more than a 30% increase in production of the bumblebees, which are highly efficient pollinators. The farming site itself is even model for eco-friendly agricultural practice, built with solar panels and an advanced system for water recycling. As might be expected, these greenhouses are also ideal scientific laboratories for studying the techniques of auxiliary insect farming.
These practices have been undertaken by Savéol producers for over three decades and their positive environmental impact has been firmly established. Eight personnel specialized in entomology are strictly responsible for overseeing the insect breeding, and an additional four entomologists manage the populations at the various sites. These techniques must be constantly adapted to meet the varying needs of the producers in the cooperative. As the cooperative of farmers employing this farming method grows, Savéol Nature and its employees continue to share their unique know-how – and their insects – with more and more sustainable farmers.