Product boosts plants defence
A NOVEL approach to disease control could help UK cereal growers boost fungicide yield responses with little extra environmental impact.
Plant activator compounds can trigger systemic acquired resistance (SAR), offering growers a new crop management tool, delegates at a London conference heard last week.
Rather than controlling pathogens directly, the chemical stimulates the plants natural defences.
The first of this new category of products to reach the farm gate is Bion (acibenzolar-S-methyl) from Novartis. Registered in Germany as a plant tonic for wheat, it was used on over 150,000ha (370,650 acres) there last year. Trials across the UK, France and Germany show an application at GS 25-29 can give an average yield rise of 0.46t/ha (4cwt/acre) over plots receiving no fungicide, said Willhelm Ruess of Novartis, Germany.
Reduced disease incidence, primarily mildew, appears to account for the yield lift over untreated crops, he said. Mildew incidence dropped 65% after a GS25-29 application of Bion, and rusts and septorias 20-40%. But greener leaves and a more erect growth habit suggested other physiological factors may have played a part too.
lBion can raise yields over and above robust conventional programmes in the UK, adds Novartiss Neil Waddingham. In East Anglia a 6% yield increase in Brigadier was achieved by Bion applied at GS25-29 when followed by a GS32 strobilurin, GS45-49 triazole programme, and in Scotland a 2% increase was achieved with Consort in a similar programme. *
• Plant health not disease control.
• Good environmental profile.
• Could boost fungicide effects.
• 150,000ha sprayed in Germany at £25/ha last year.
• Available in UK in 1999?