Mighty mite breeder sets up shop in Klamath Falls

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Monday, October 01, 2007

KLAMATH FALLS Spider mites can wreak havoc on crops, wiping out millions of dollars in agricultural income one tiny bite at a time.

Which is why Skip Maltby, a former aerospace engineer from Southern California, got into the predator-mite business.  

“They’re really green and they’re more effective than pesticides,” Maltby says of the seven varieties of predator mites — all with a voracious appetite for spider mites — that he raises in greenhouses and sells by the shaker-full to farmers.

Problem was, because the predator mite breeding brothel needed to be kept at a balmy 90 degrees at all times, Maltby was getting stuck with sky-high propane bills.

Enter Tracy Liskey. The Klamath Falls-area farmer was already leasing out his geothermal well-heated greenhouses to other entrepreneurs (one fine-tuning a biodiesel still, the other tending  pools of tropical fish). A cheap, 90-degree greenhouse was no sweat at Liskey Farms.

“The Climate Trust had never worked with something so unique.”

TREY SENN
KLAMATH COUNTY ECONOMIC
DEVELOPMENT ASSOCIATION

So when Maltby started poking around for the cash he needed to start a Klamath operation, he met Trey Senn, executive director of the Klamath County Economic Development Association, who was carefully tending his Sustainable Klamath project — a push to market the region as the place to do green business. He saw potential in Maltby’s company, Biotactics, and quickly got him in touch with The Climate Trust.

The Portland-based Climate Trust, a nonprofit battling global warming, had money to invest in emissions-reduction projects. They crunched the numbers and figured Biotactics’ use of geothermal energy would keep 25,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere.

The trust wrote the first check for $130,000, and other agencies ponied up. Maltby, his move-in costs covered, is busily breeding.

CHRISTINA WILLIAMS


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