US biochemical company AgraQuest has been granted UK approval for its biological fungicide Serenade Soil to be used for in-furrow applications in potato plantings.
BASF will be marketing the product for next season, containing the Bacillus subtilis strain QST 713, which is a naturally occurring beneficial soil bacterium that colonises plant roots and protects them from disease.
Serenade Soil will be sold as an aqueous suspension, which will be applied at planting using traditional methods, improving its efficacy from previous foliar applications.
“The product produces on average a 13% yield increase, which comes from grower trials, university trials and our own in-house trials. It has become the third largest soil fungicide in the US in only its second year of sales,” said Sarah Reiter, AgraQuest vice-president of marketing, agrochemicals and food value chain.
When considering use of bio-pesticides it is important that they can also stand alone as a crop protection product when compared with conventional solutions, said Ms Reiter.
“When used for rhizoctonia control, work carried out in the USA shows that it can perform equally if not better than Amistar (azoxystrobin), at a slightly cheaper price.
“Serenade Soil out-yielded Amistar in 70% of instances when grown alongside one another, however, growers may still want to consider using it in combination with a conventional product where other diseases are thrown into the mix.”
Serenade Soil also gives good control of common scab, silver scurf, blackleg and early blight, which are all key diseases in the UK potato area. It also claims to increase tuber size and is extremely persistent.
“The University of Connecticut carried out research into the length of time that the bacterium continued to colonise in the root zone and they gave up counting after 80 days,” said Ms Reiter.
The news came as Bayer CropScience informed conference delegates in Edinburgh that it was committed to finding alternative solutions to work alongside its conventional chemicals.
Registration processes in the EU are some of the tightest in the world and have resulted in the loss of 700 actives since the legislation began, which has put a huge burden on crop protection programmes.
Bio-pesticides will, therefore, become increasingly important in providing the industry with new tools to support conventional products.
“Integrated crop management systems should include biological solutions and as a major supplier of crop protection products we believe these solutions have a future in modern agriculture,” said Albert Schirring, Bayer CropScience’s segment manager for potatoes and vegetables.