WITH more and more regulatory scrutiny on fungicide products the agriculture sector is desperately looking at different means of controlling damage fungal disease outbreaks.
Research out of Europe and North America, conducted on grapes, has seen some promising breakthroughs with the development of a biological form of fungicide that achieves good control of botrytis.
Botrytis is best known as a disease of grapes, but also causes significant economic impact in pulse crops, in particular chickpeas, where botrytris grey mould is a major problem, especially in wet seasons.
The research was done by Biotalys NV, a US-based crop protection company.
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It found the BioFun-1 biofungicide, due to launch in the US in 2022, had been effective in controlling botrytis and other related diseases, such as powdery mildew.
Following the US launch, Biotalys said it hoped to release the product in other countries.
The biofungicide uses proteins to attack the disease pathogens, with an efficacy rate competitive against chemical fungicides and superior to other biological products on the market, according to Biotalys.
In solo applications BioFun-1, provided high protection against multiple pathogens in the majority (over 85 percent) of the trials compared to the untreated control.
Under severe disease pressure a higher dose rate provides comparable protection to the chemical reference without the challenge of residues for the growers.
In 89 per cent of the trials, the IPM program with BioFun-1 in rotation with commercial fungicides performed on par with the standard chemical IPM program, resulting in comparable yield, fruit quality and post-harvest shelf-life while chemical residues were reduced by up to 68pc.
The next field trial program is already in process and will span more than 150 field trials in various crops and different environmental conditions in Europe, South Africa and the United States.