- NEWSLETTER 204: Experts push for smart agriculture
- FFTC-VAAS joint workshop explores the use of bio-pesticides and bio-fertilizers
On May 7-9, FFTC, together with the Vietnam Academy of Agricultural Sciences (VAAS), gathered 20 speakers from nine countries (France, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam) and representatives of five private companies conducted a workshop on “Enabling Capacity in Production and Application of Bio-pesticides and Bio-fertilizers for Soil-borne Disease Control and Organic Farming.” The workshop, which was held in Ho-Chi Minh city, reviewed the current status of soil-borne diseases problems in the region and explored innovative technologies like the use of bio-pesticides and bio-fertilizers to adopt for soil-disease control.
Combination of methods in soil-borne disease control
Presentations delivered by invited soil scientists all claim that 50 years of intensive and chemical farming have taken its toll on both soil and water quality, leading to an increase in plant diseases and other pest problems. According to experts, soil-borne pathogens, including fungi, fungi-like microorganisms, bacteria as well as viruses and plant parasitic nematodes are one of the major factors that contribute to low yields of agricultural products. Since synthetic pesticides and chemical fertilizers are expensive and detrimental to both human health and the environment, biological control has now become a very important component of plant disease management. One such approach is to apply organic amendments to soils to suppress soil-borne diseases. This is where the use of bio-agents such as bio-pesticides and bio-fertilizers comes in. They are now called an integral part of organic farming, especially in vegetable cultivation, in which their use is considered alternate strategy to the prevalent use of synthetic pesticides.
However, the use of bio-pesticides and bio-fertilizers is not as easy as it sounds. Participants in the workshop claim that there are lots of fake bio products in the market and in some countries, the application for permission to use bio-pesticides is quite difficult. Integrated Pest Management or IPM uses various methods like crop rotation, soil solarization, soil amendments, grafting and biological control and use of natural compounds are often recommended by soil scientists. There are also many varieties of microorganisms, including fungi and bacteria, which have been developed and registered as biological pesticides that could be alternative choices for chemical pesticides.
Dr. Dang Thi Kim Uyen from the Southern Horticultural Research Institute (SOFRI), in her presentation titled “Soil-borne Pathogen/Disease Problems and Management Strategy for Fruit Trees Production: Experience from Vietnam,” said that since 2005, SOFRI has done many kinds of research and development of soil-borne diseases. Just as the experts recommended, they combined different methods such as using free-disease seedlings, integrated disease management, disease vectors control to decrease the damage caused by soil-borne pathogens such as Fusarium solani, Phythim sp. and Phytophthora sp. to manage the disease. Combining biological control agents, nutrients management, regular field observation and other cultural practices help a lot in soil-borne disease management.
Dr. Ganisan Krishen, Senior Scientist of the Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute (MARDI), shared that based on the Malaysian experience, soil borne disease can be controlled to a certain extent by employing good farm cultural practices, organic matter application and use of disease free and Plant Growth Promoting Rhizobacteria (PGPR as biocontrol) and Induced Systemic Resistance (ISR) to control soil-borne diseases.
In the case of Thailand, Dr. Chainarong Rattanakreetakul from the Department of Plant Pathology, Kasetsart University, gave some examples of non-chemical control of soil-borne diseases, such as use of natural products like lemongrass and clove oil and bio-agent products like Trichoderma spp. and Bacillus sp. The process of sustainable disease management, he says, relies on the farmers’ practices which reflect their experiences on the local climate and the local soil condition and their knowledge on farm practice.
For the Philippines, Dr. Eufrocinio Marfori, scientist from the National Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology of the University of the Philippines at Los Baños (UPLB) the introduction of a biocontrol agent called Salaume tuberosum callus and an F2 microbe—when combined together, showed remarkable activity against F. oxysporum. The product, which they called “Wiltcure” has been found to be four times better than the traditional control method.
In Taiwan, Dr. Tsung-Chun Lin, Assistant plant pathologist of the Taiwan Agricultural Research Institute (TARI), the use of the biocontrol agent called Bacuillus amyloliquefaciens P-2-2, together with other farm practices, has been found effective for the control of strawberry anthracnose.
In summary, the speakers recommended to conduct and continue doing studies and research on IPM to ensure long-lasting sustainability in crop production. They also recommended farmers to diagnose and assess the disease occurrence potential of crops before planting them in the field and implement the appropriate control measures based on the potential degree using a decision-making system. It was also strongly suggested to train technical leaders and/or extension workers who can explain to the farmers the science of using bio-fertilizers and bio-pesticides and their corresponding benefits. Finally, the experts also suggested that in order to stabilize the biological agents for growing and surviving in the field, farmers should provide nutrition not only for the plants but also for the biological agents.
FFTC Director Dr. Kuo-Ching Lin, VAAS President Dr. Nguyen Hong, Son and FFTC Deputy Director Dr. Akira Hasebe grace the opening ceremony of the international workshop on "Enabling Capacity in Production and Application of Bio-pesticides and Bio-fertilizers for Soil-Borne Disease Control" in Hanoi, Vietnam. A total of 23 speakers and hundreds of participants from eight countries join this activity.
In the workshop, FFTC signs a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Vietnam Academy of Agriculture (VAAS). The said MOU aims to strengthen cooperation between the two parties. Dr. Nguyen Hong Son, President of VAAS, and FFTC Director Dr. Kuo-Ching Lin sign the MOU after which the two parties exchange gifts to further seal their partnership.
Dr. Chainarong Rattanakreetakul from the Department of Plant Pathology, Kasetsart University, gave some examples of non-chemical control of soil-borne diseases, such as use of natural products like lemongrass and clove oil and bio-agent products like Trichoderma spp. and Bacillus sp.
SOFRI’s Dr. Dang Thi Kim Uyen, in her presentation titled “Soil-borne Pathogen/Disease Problems and Management Strategy for Fruit Trees Production: Experience from Vietnam,” says that since 2005, their institute has done many kinds of research and development on soil-borne diseases.