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THE POTENTIALS OF BIOPESTICIDE IN DISEASE MANAGEMENT



Biopesticides also called biocontrol agents are formulated products from living organisms used to combat other living pathogenic organisms. Biocontrol agents are used to suppress the growth or reduce the population of another organism to a level at which it is no longer an economic problem. The activities of biocontrol agents could be likened to vaccines used to manage or prevent diseases in animal husbandry. The biocontrol agents provide protection against plant diseases either by direct action against the pathogen and/or indirectly by reducing host susceptibility towards the pathogen including fungi, bacteria, nematodes, protozoa, viruses and seed plants.
The introduction of biocontrol agents for diseases management has been one of the major breakthroughs in plant pathology. A large portion of biopesticides formulated from fungi (Trichoderma viride) or bacteria (Pseudomonas fluorescens or Bacillus subtilis) have been used to control soil borne diseases in Greenhouses, Seedlings nursery and other protected cultivation. They have been used as preventative measure and/or in combination or alternating with compatible pesticides for effective management of diseases. Presently, bio-pesticides represent about 1.5 - 2% of the world pesticide market, however, the growth of biopesticides over the next ten years has been projected to be 10-15% annually. Commercially formulated biopesticides include Biofungicides, Bioinsecticides, Bionematicides, Bioviricide and Biobactericides.

Over time, conventional pesticides have been reported to produce toxic fumes which are hazardous to farm workers; the effect is greater if used in greenhouse because of the confinement. Even the societal concern about the environmental and health effects of conventional pesticides is increasing. Most pesticides require a re-entry period before farm workers can return to treated crops and there is a harvest interval, a period of time between the last application and harvest. Pesticides have longer residual activity in crops; moreover, their intensive use and limited choice have caused pathogens to develop resistance.
By and large, biopesticides have the potential to properly manage pathogenic organisms and diseases. Biopesticides is less toxic and more stable if stored properly, has lower re-entry period and it is safer to use. Moreover, it has lesser risk of developing resistance to pathogens and a good choice for organic and export oriented products. Trichoderma viride and Pseudomonas fluorescens have been effective against damping off, root knot nematode and fusarium wilt that affect tomato, capsicum and cucumber. Equally, Bacillus subtilis is helpful in managing downy mildew, powdery mildew and fruit rot that affect capsicum, cucumber and tomato.

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