A NEW BIOLOGICAL control agent for potato cyst nematode could cut multiplication rates by half, according to latest research findings.

Currently under trial at Harper Adams University, the agent is made from the soil born fungus Pochonia chlamydosporia, which is a naturally occurring parasite of cyst nematodes, project coordinators explained.

“Growers need a biological control agent that is cost effective and easy to apply,” said David Crump of project partners, BioNem.

Although commercial production may be 3-4 years away, he believes the product will be cheaper than existing formulations and easily incorporated into potato beds using conventional equipment.

Commenting on trials at Harper Adams, the University‘s Pat Haydock said that for the first time the agent can reduce PCN reproductive rates in a commercial field situation.

“A 50% reduction in nematode multiplication is a major contribution to a sustainable integrated control programme for potato cyst nematodes,” he said.

“This research programme is the nearest to commercial application in the UK,” added Dr Crump.

“With a relatively small amount of additional funding we would be able to get a commercial product to growers within 3 to 4 years.”