Technology for prevention of diseases of crops
Mitigation of diseases of crops is a major concern for farmers. Average loss of crop due to disease is estimated to be around 30% across Asia and Africa. Under bad climate the risk of crop loss due to diseases exceed 90%. With changes in the climate, totally new or previously unheard diseases are spreading rapidly – irrespective of geography. The conventional disease mitigation tools fall short. The very concept of pathogen appears to be changing rapidly.
Average farmers mostly use experience to predict the possibility of disease and use conventional tools to mitigate diseases of crops. At the most they get a climate based warning. Mostly the treatment starts only after the disease symptoms are seen. This means that some damage is already booked. At this stage only curative treatments can be used. These are toxic chemicals. If the climate is favorable for pathogen, curative treatments may not work. Irrespective of the treatment used, farmers suffer huge losses. What farmers need today are point of care, scalable tools for preventive diagnosis of crop diseases; and right selection of treatment based on the diagnostic tests. A holistic approach also considering factors such as plant nutrition and beneficial microbes that minimize disease potential is required for de-risking the farmers in most sustainable way.
Some plant varieties show genetic resistant to disease. Those that do not have such in built resistance show symptoms of disease. Visual symptom – in most of the cases – is because of hypersensitive response given by the plant. But before using this last weapon plants use localized defense and systemic acquired resistance. Plants affected by pathogen get in to plant- plant communication mode to caution others against pathogen.
When we look in to inducing defense mechanism of plants , we must consider very early events in plant microbe interaction and understand how we can prevent invasion of plant by pathogen and nullify or minimize pathogenesis effect on plant. These preventive steps are much more effective in reducing the risk of farmers associated with the damage caused by disease, as compared with the prevalent curative treatments. There are over 300 biomolecules – mainly carbohydrate type – that are recognized by plants as Pathogen Associated Molecular Patterns (PAMPs). Plants react to the PAMP and start building their defense mechanism, which has different pathways and elements – the central one being induction of callose synthesis.
At Swasti Agro we are working around a biomolecule named chitosan and several beneficial microbes belonging to special categories named oligotrophs and endophytes. These two components provide us capability to “Block invasion” (Bi), “Optimize Advantageous-microflora” (OA) and “Vertex Inhibitor-synthesis” (Vert I) together constituting a wholesome program of mitigation of diseases – “BiOAVert I”.
We have a technology platform (under patenting) for modification of chitosan. This can lead to multiple (50+) derivatives of chitosan, leading to water soluble product derivatives of otherwise only acid soluble chitosan. The selected derivatives show 100 times enhanced biological activity.
The special types of beneficial microbes defend plant surfaces by eliminating pathogens by competition, inhibiting germination of fungal spores, inhibiting the pathogens to bind on plant surfaces and form biofilms, and by inhibiting the pathogenic activities.
The BiOAVert I program of building plant defense mechanism is based on 100% biodegradable, organic, and environment safe ingredients that boost natural processes of fighting the disease for plants. Using this program we have shown effective prevention and control (at a very early stage) of damages caused by bacterial, fungal, and nematode based diseases of crops.