International Innovation Award

Posted on 18 November 2016

A product developed as part of a Keele University partnership has won an International Innovation Award for its insecticide-free solution to pest control.

The award was given to a range of sticky roller traps manufactured by Russell IPM, which use an aggregation pheromone discovered at Keele University to attract pests, providing effective and insecticide-free pest control.

Keele University academics Professor Gordon Hamilton and Dr William Kirk first discovered and identified the aggregation pheromone that can be used to attract pests in 2001. From 2014-2016, Keele University collaborated with Russell IPM as part of a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) to develop several new products for trapping insects, reducing damage in strawberry crops and the need for insecticides.

The Innovation Award was presented this week in Germany at the European Asparagus and Strawberry Fair (expoSE) and Agricultural Direct Sales Expo (expoDirekt), an international annual event attended by over 6000 visitors.

Dr Kirk, who also supervised the KTP project, said:

“I am delighted that a product we have helped develop has received an innovation award from the horticultural industry. It is a tribute to the work of my thrips research group at Keele University. Our recent Knowledge Transfer Partnership with Russell IPM Ltd was instrumental in allowing our thrips research to be used to develop a product that will help crop production around the world.”

The Optiroll Blue Super Plus roller trap by Russel IPM was selected for an innovation award thanks to its three unique qualities: a specially selected wavelength of blue colour that specifically attracts thrips, a scientifically developed pattern that targets the thrips, and the aggregation pheromone, which was discovered and developed at Keele University. Infusing the trap’s adhesive layer with the pheromone further increases the attraction of this insect, which otherwise damages strawberries and greenhouse vegetables. The added value to farmers is not only that thrips are effectively managed, but also that the traps integrate well with the predatory mites and bugs that are part of thrips control programmes and are safe for pollinating bumblebees.

The KTP associate, Dr Clare Sampson, is now the Horticulture Development Manager at Russell IPM. Dr Sampson commented:

“Working with Russell IPM allowed immediate translation of good results into marketable products, while working with Keele University maintained access to specialist knowledge and facilities.

“It is a measure of the success of the project that we have ended with many more research ideas than we started with. Since I have taken up the post of Horticultural Development Manager with Russell IPM, I hope that the partnership will continue with new collaborations.

“The project resulted in new traps that are very effective in the field, making a real contribution to pest control for farmers, without any harmful effects on the environment, and this is the most satisfying result for me. Winning an innovation award is icing on the cake.”

For more information about Knowledge Transfer Partnerships, see

For more informatin about Russell IPM, see their website