CATCH THE BUZZ – USDA Grants To Spur Innovations To Slash Pesticide Use. California Biotech Firm Receives $1.8 Million For Pest-Control Innovations

ISCA Technologies Inc.

IMAGE: ISCA Technologies’ SPLAT Bloom is being developed with a USDA grant. It uses pheromones to focus bees brought to orchards on blossoming fruit trees, increasing pollination rates.

Credit: ISCA Technologies

A Riverside, Calif., biotech company will advance eight environmentally-friendly innovations to control damaging crop and forest pests and improve crop yields thanks to $1.8 million in grants it received this year from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

ISCA Technologies received six $100,000 “Phase 1” grants from the department’s Small Business Innovation Research Program to develop and test five new pest control products and one that improves fruit blossom pollination rates. ISCA also received two $600,000 Phase 2 grants to prepare for the commercial market products already shown to have worked in field trials.

These technologies are economical, effective and ground-breaking.

For example, one innovation uses naturally occurring pheromones to induce honey bees to pollinate flowers preferentially in the area where the product is applied. This results in healthier bees, higher pollination rates, and higher crop production. Another puts yeast species to work to brew insect sex pheromones inexpensively, making various environmentally safe control strategies significantly more affordable to growers. And a third launches drones to deploy pheromones and other naturally occurring compounds that control pests by modifying their behavior.

Here are the two $600,000 grants:

  • Protecting Southern Yellow Pine from Dendroctonus Frontalis with SPB Repel Details; and
  • Semiochemical Management of The Cranberry Fruitworm for the Small Cranberry Grower.

Here are the six $100,000 grants:

  • A Semiochemical Shield for Spruce and Douglas Fir Trees from Bark Beetle Attack;
  • Splat Bloom: Focused Bee Pollination in Safe Target Areas
  • CLB Repel: A Safe, Organic Semiochemical Repellent for the Chicken Litter Beetle, Alphitobius Diaperinus;
  • UAV-Based (drone-based) Semiochemical Management for U.S. Agricultural Crops;
  • CBB (coffee berry borer) Repel: Safeguarding The Prosperity Of The Small Farm Hawaiian Coffee Industry; and
  • BYOP – Brew Your Own Pheromone: A Bio-Based Production Method For Insect Pheromones Using Yeast Cell Factories.

The USDA this year awarded a total of $24 million in this grant program for U.S. businesses with 500 or fewer employees, the department announced on Wednesday, Oct. 18.

ISCA Technologies develops, tests and commercializes safe, economical and environmentally-friendly integrated management solutions to crop-destroying and disease-spreading pests worldwide based the use of naturally occurring compounds that influence animal behavior.

ISCA strives to revolutionize pest control by developing methods that don’t harm other creatures and drastically reduce or even completely replace pesticide applications