Biofungicide or natural fungicides use unmodified, naturally occurring bacteria and fungi to control plant disease and fungal infections. They have been used since the 1930's to control powdery mildew, root rot, rust and other fungal diseases.
And what makes this a new and exciting way to tackle plant infection is that new varieties of bacteria and fungi are being discovered each day that can be used in this way.
So how does it work?
They are able to directly attack plant disease or slow down infectious growth. Or they may simply be harmless bacteria that multiply so quickly they take all possible room and resource leaving no room for infectious disease to grow.
They may eat the same food as disease organisms helping to starve out the disease or they may produce natural antibiotics that kill bad organisms.
Lastly, some natural fungicides make a sugar compound that inteferes with the disease organism's metabolism thus killing it.
The possibilities are virtually endless. Currently there are over 40 brands of these natural fungicides being marketed world wide with 6 brands being the most popular. You may have heard of names like 'Kodiak' or 'Serenade' which are amoung the most popular brands.
Biofungicide; a new weapon against plant disease
Their effectiveness can be summarized into 4 categories:
Advantages from their use as disease control include a reduction in use of toxic chemicals and forcing diseases to develop chemical resistant varieties.
These natural organisms are safer to use than a toxic chemical and they are more stable than chemicals when it comes to storage.
And they are not toxic to a host plant even if reapplied several times.
But there are disadvantages as well. For instance they have a narrower target range of disease per biofungicide organism and require greater preparation for use than chemicals.
The definitely do not work quickly and many times a plant infection needs to be eradicated fast or it will kill the host plant.
Even though it has better storage stability than chemicals, the actual shelf life is shorter and it is more expensive on the average.
It is not compatible with other chemical fungicides and bactericides and there has to be an inherent danger in letting loose living organisms into environments that do not have those living organisms or only have a limited supply.
The ecological balance will be disrupted.
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