Though it may look like a normal hothouse that grows vegetables, the Savéol experimental greenhouse in Brittany boasts a very different kind of crop — insects. The goal? To breed plant-friendly invertebrates that can enable farmers to produce pesticide-free tomatoes.
From bumblebees to wasps and bugs, the unique insect ‘nursery’ is home to a variety of different insects, all on a mission to get rid of pests during the farming process and help encourage pollination.
The greenhouse is located at a farm belonging to France’s largest tomato producer, the Savéol cooperative. The farm works with 126 producers and is known for its pesticide-free crops, the demand for which has grown in recent years as consumers have become increasingly aware of the impact of these noxious chemicals on the health of people and the planet.
Though the bug farm has been operating for almost 40 years, Savéol is the only European producer today to have integrated the production of auxiliary insects. These helpful bugs can control crop-harming pests such as whiteflies, and the bumblebees ensure effective pollination in a process that’s purely organic. In addition to using the insects in their own operations, the farm sells 100 million insects to over 120 farmers each year to support pesticide-free planting around the country.
Overall, the use of crop-beneficial insects by French farmers has grown significantly, with regulators approving 330 species as plant pest treatments earlier this year, up from 257 in 2015, reports Euronews. With demand increasing, Savéol is now planning to add 1,200 square meters to their insect farm in 2021.