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
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
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