Members' experiments

Help us assess if a new biostimulant could revolutionise organic pest control

Each year we organise several citizen science experiments that our members can participate in to help inform the way we grow organically today. This experiment is 2022 - Help us assess if a new biostimulant could revolutionise organic pest control.

NIAB (the National Institute of Agricultural Botany) and Wasware (a subsidiary company of Cambond, which has developed a plant-based bio-adhesive system) are developing a new seed coating that contains chitin (made from feeding food waste to soldier fly larvae) which acts like a vaccine, building up the plant’s natural defence against pests and diseases. It is a completely natural substance and does not harm wildlife.

We would like our members, to help us test this seed coating to see if it offers a sustainable, organic pest control option for gardeners, avoiding the need for pesticide use.

NIAB and Wasware are carrying out their own testing of the product and in 2021 a handful of Garden Organic members carried out initial tests of this coating within their own back gardens. We would like to continue testing for an additional growing season to build on our evidence base.

The sign up for this experiment is now closed.

The experiment - what's involved

You won't need a huge amount of garden space for this experiment, three large pots and potting compost will be enough to get you started, we'll provide everything else. We would like participants to simply grow three different batches of salad crops into individual pots to monitor defence against a range of pests, in particular flea beetle.

  • Pot 1 - Sow untreated seed and grow your salad crop as you normally would.
  • Pot 2 - Sow uncoated seed with biostimulant applied to the soil
  • Pot 3 - Seed coated with biostimulant

What we'll provide

Closer to the start time of the experiment you'll receive an information pack that will include the following:

  • Simple, easy-to-follow instructions.
  • Your seeds, (uncoated and coated) for all three pots
  • Biostimulant

What you'll need:

  • Three large pots
  • Potting compost

Our Knowledge Transfer team will send out experiments and information packs in the post to all participants during the first week of April, so please keep an eye on the post. We'll post updates in our Organic Matters newsletter.

Dates for your diary...

  • Experiment start date: Mid-April.
  • Experiment end date: Beginning August.
  • All results are to be submitted to us by the end of September.

How much time will I need to set aside to take part?

Not much at all. We're asking for participants to set aside 10-15 minutes a week to assess their salad crops and note down any pest damage across the three pots. This is the perfect experiment, for beginner growers but also for those expert growers that are curious to find out more about preventing pests the organic way.

Submitting your results

We advise that you enter all your results all at once, at the end of the trial to ensure that you don't lose any of your data.