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Biopesticides a critical tool for growers

May 29, 2017  By Vineland Research and Innovation Centre

May 29, 2017, Vineland, Ont. – Plant treatments with biopesticides can prevent or mitigate root-borne diseases.

Vineland Research and Innovation Centre (Vineland) is investigating the integration of biopesticides into production systems to improve plant resilience, enhance biological control and increase plant productivity.

Vineland conducted experiments to evaluate the efficacy of 10 biopesticides on root pathogens pythium and fusarium but the research did not stop there. Biopesticides can also induce plant defences through the activation of the plant’s “immune system.”


This led to the question as to whether induced defence responses make a plant more or less susceptible to pests. Increased plant resistance to pests will improve pest control while increased susceptibility to pests requires additional mitigation steps.

Hydroponically grown commercial tomato cultivars tested with different biopesticide treatments to the roots.

“We found biopesticide performance to be highly variable,” said Dr. Rose Buitenhuis, Vineland’s research scientist, biological control.  

“Root rot was suppressed 40 to 80 per cent of the time. The top performing products reduced root disease by 25 to 37 per cent and were more effective than conventional fungicides.”


Additionally, marked differences in the response of two-spotted spider mite and greenhouse whitefly were observed, varying according to the biopesticide applied. Spider mite and whitefly populations were 40 per cent lower on plants treated with biopesticides that also performed well against root pathogens.

“This research gives growers the information they need to successfully utilize biopesticides in managing key root pathogens,” said Buitenhuis. “We also found all biopesticides increased root development and some enhanced defences in the above-ground portion of the plant, making it more resistant to pests.”

Results of this three-year study were presented at two grower seminars in March 2017 with 70 per cent of attendees saying they would change their practices based on the information presented. The next steps in this project will assess these products for pest/disease suppression and the effects on plant performance.

This project was funded in part through Growing Forward 2 (GF2), a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. The Agricultural Adaptation Council assists in the delivery of GF2 in Ontario.

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