Biotechnology handy in pest control and stock upgrades

Advances in biotechnology are giving farmers safer and better options for eliminating pests leading to higher yields.

Have you been experiencing a consistent reduction in yields, despite dutifully preparing your land, using high quality seed, fertilisers and pesticides? Your crops wilt and yellow, have rotting roots and stunted growth, yet you have no idea what the problem is?

It could be in the soil. Many farmers are losing out in poor yields due to degraded soils that are infested with diseases caused by pathogens. That is what you need to treat.

Pathogens, which include harmful fungi like Fusarium, Pythium, Rhizoctonia and Sclerotinia, cause diseases of the roots or stem and disrupt uptake of water and nutrients from the soil. This may lead to reduced yield, wilting, yellowing, leaf fall, stunting and even plant death. Using field pesticides or fungicides may not be enough to destroy them.

Soil-borne diseases occur due to a reduction in the biodiversity of soil organisms. Among the methods of controlling pathogens is using biological control, which would involve adding beneficial soil organisms and the food they need to the soil to increase their numbers and type.

Biological control is a method of controlling pests and plant diseases using natural enemies that parasitise or anatagonise the harmful pests. It would help stabilise the soil’s biological system and suppress diseases through competition, antagonism, and direct feeding on pathogenic fungi, bacteria and nematodes.

Among the beneficial organisms available are trichoderma, mycorrhiza, flavobacterium, streptomycetes, gliocladium spp., bacillus spp., pseudomonas spp. etc. A practical example is the use of Trianum. Trianum is the trade name for Koppert Biological Systems’s unique, patented hybrid strain of the beneficial fungus Trichoderma harzianum strain T-22. The fungus works in different ways to choke growth of harmful fungi.

Already, a large number of horticultural growers are using Trianum and have reported amazing results. Not only have they been able to manage soil-borne diseases but reported an increase in yields, improved quality and a healthy return on investment.

A healthy plant starts with a healthy root system Trianum is not only useful for the control of soil-borne pathogens such as fu- sarium, pythium, rhizoctonia and sclerotinia but also for promoting growth of plant roots and shoots. By promoting healthy root devel- opment, Trianum-treated plants demonstrate improved uptake of water and nutrients.

The result is a stronger, healthier and more uniform crop. Indeed, crops grown with Trianum are observed to be more resistant

to stress caused by diseases, sub-optimal feeding and watering regimes, or climatic conditions. An early application of Trianum for example in propagation units, seedbeds, shortly after germination, is recommended for best results.

This always translates to a dramatic in- crease in yield; improved quality of produce for example, less pod spots and pitting in snow peas, longer flower stems in lilies and cut-roses, among others. Most importantly, Trianum is an investment; the extra income you get from selling more produce is always greater than the cost of Trianum. Already, a large number of horticultural growers are using Trianum and have reported amazing results. Not only have they been able to manage soil-borne diseases but reported an increase in yields, improved quality and a healthy return on investment.

And now Koppert, which has mostly been serving large-scale farmers, has entered into a partnership with Amiran Kenya to provide biological control products to small-scale farmers as well and Trianum is the first of these products they will introduce.

Koppert is the international market leader in the field of biological crop protection

and natural pollination. It has a reputation internationally for reliability, innovation and quality and has been supplying sustainable solutions for the professional cultivation of vegetables, fruits and ornamental crops for more than 45 years.

How Trianum works

Following application of Trianum in the root zone, it develops mycelia, which grow very aggressively along with the developing root system. It protects the plants in six ways:

  • Mycelia grow at the same rate as the normal root development, and thus cover the roots, which forms a physical barrier against attack from pathogens such as fusarium and pythium.
  • Absorbs the exudates from the roots, thereby starving the pathogens to death due to lack of nutrients.
  • Behaves like a mycoparasite growing around pathogens and producing enzymes that break down their cell walls.
  • Enhances the plants immune systemmaking them better able to resist attack from pathogens, which may destroy leaves and fruits.
  • It increases availability of macro and micro nutrients such as nitrogen, potassium, copper, zinc and iron for absorption by the plant.
  • Promotes the development of a healthier root system with more root hairs. This improves the uptake of water and nutrients resulting in a stronger, more uniform crop which gives better yields even under difficult conditions.

Small-scale farmers are to benefit from a partnership agreement be- tween Koppert Biological Systems (K) and Amiran Kenya to provide them with biological crop protec- tion products. These will not only control insect pests and diseases, but also help increase crop production and raise farmers’ incomes.

Biological control is one of the fastest growing fields of crop protection and is an environment- friendly approach. The first bio-control product they shall introduce is Trianum. This is the trade name for Kop- pert’s unique, patented hybrid strain of the beneficial fungus trichoderma harzianum strain T-22.

“Trianum is not only useful for the control of soil-borne patho- gens such as fusarium, but also for increasing yields and improving quality of crops,” says Purity Ka- buba, the Koppert Kenya market- ing manager.

“It is suitable for application in all crops including vegetables, ornamentals, flowers, fruit crops, cereals, pulses, herbs and field crops,” she adds. Kenyan farmers who have been using Trianum are extremely happy with the results, she adds. “This is because it has been an effective tool in increasing yields and improving quality, while man- aging of soil-borne diseases.”

Already, Trianum has hit the distributors’ and stockists’ shelves in small convenient packs of 15g. Koppert has invested in coolers for stockists to guarantee the quality of the product. Koppert is among the interna- tional market leaders in biological crop protection with over 45 years of experience, while Amiran has over 40 years of experience in the horticultural industry and agri- culture in Kenya and throughout East Africa.

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