Dump that damping-off diseases
Best agricultural produce are often derived from good production inputs which include high quality and disease free planting materials.
But the indiscriminate use of chemical pesticides to minimize disease infestation especially during seed germination stage remains to be a formidable challenge for our local farmers today. To address this long-standing problem, a study on the use of Trichoderma as a control agent of damping-off disease in vegetable was conducted by a research group headed by Dr. Virginia C. Cuevas at UP Los Banos. The project, which wa supported by the Bureau of Agricultrual Research (BAR), determined the efficacy of Tricoderma as a biological control agent against the pre emergent and post-emergent damping off diseases in lowland vegetables. The damping off diseases, usually caused by fungal pathogens under moist or damp conditions are fatal to seedlings.
Results of the study revealed that Trichoderma, when applied to pechay and tomato, effectively controlled the three identified damping-off diseases namely: Pythium , Sclerotium and Rhizoctona. Application of Trichoderma showed comparative advantages over the use of chemical fungicide Dithane in terms of effectiveness, 155% and 67% respectively. It was also noted that the percentage of seed germination in Trichoderma treated plots was higher (82%) compare to those plots treated with chemical fungicide (76%) . As to the growth enhancement property of Trichoderma on pechay and tomato seedlings, these were taller and heavier compared to control and chemically treated seedlings.
In terms of economics, farmers can save more with the use of Trichoderma. Rough estimate of application cost showed that farmers spend 4 pesos per square meter using Trichoderma pellets and 6 pesos per square meter using Dithane. As for the frequency of application, Trichodermma pelletes are applied only once per season while Dithane requires repeated foliar spraying every 7-10 days after the first drench application.
Trichoderma is a known worldwide fungus with high antagonistic properties against fungal pathogens and wide range of soil-borne and airborne pathogenic diseases. Scientist confirmed that species of Trichoderma has desirable inherent characteristics over other soil micro organisms since they grow very fast. They have the ability to produce polysaccharide (complex carbohydrate or sugar)- degrading enzymes that enable them to colonize substrate that are also utilized by pathogens during their survival phase.
Several studies conducted in different countries have proven the effectiveness of Trichoderma in attacking the hyphae or larvae of the pathogenic fungus. According to Dr. Cuevas, the success of Trichoderma products in the market attests that ther is solid basis for its use as biological control agent.
Source: BAR TODAY April June 2001, Mary Charlotte O. Fresco
For more information, Please contact Dr. Virginia C. Cuevas, Dr. Alfredo M. Sinohin and Mr. Joey Orajay Department of Plant Pathology College of Agriculture UPLB