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"Greenhouse growers want to get rid of Fusarium"

Fusarium causes a lot of headache for greenhouse growers. The fungus ensures that crops such as lettuce, tomato or phalaenopsis become ill or even die. Fusarium can be controlled with plant protection products, but the number of authorized products is shrinking. Time to act! Wageningen University & Research is investigating alternative ways to deal with Fusarium.

Fusarium is a pathogenic fungus and can cause damage both above and below ground. Fusarium rot affects roots of plants: vascular bundles get clogged by fungal growth and can no longer transport water and food. The result: the crop withers or even dies. Especially in the cultivation of lettuce this caused many problems in recent years. Contaminated soil or substrate must therefore be properly disinfected.

Two solutions have often been applied to a Fusarium infection: removing diseased plants or using chemicals. The latter solution is becoming increasingly difficult: due to stricter legislation fewer chemicals are permitted, Fusarium is becoming more resistant to some drugs and there are many different variants of the fungus. In addition, the use of chemical agents in the vegetable industry encounters objections in society.

It is therefore high time for proper alternatives. That is also the opinion for growers of lisianthus and phalaenopsis. They asked Wageningen University & Research to look for it. Lisianthus has now started, the trials with phalaenopsis will start in 2019. Both studies will be financed through a PPP (public-private partnership) Masterplan Fusarium.

Three routes are being examined. First of all the use of biological crop protection products to combat Fusarium. For this, use is made of resources that are already commercially available. The second route is to encourage the plant to defend itself better against the fungus by using so-called elicitors of induced resistance. And the third route focuses on soil resilience: can the soil be manipulated in such a way, for example by adding organic substances, that there is less chance of infection with Fusarium?

Source: Wageningen University & Research

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