JulyAugust 2020

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Access to adequate levels of trace elements can not only enhance the effect of fungicidal treatments in potato crops but lift yield too, according to research from the United Kingdom. A series of replicated trials carried out by the University of Nottingham and consultancy Eurofins observed how availability of the micronutrients copper and zinc can improve the crop's ability to withstand disease attacks, such as the late blight caused by the Phytopthora pathogen. Not only did this relieve the pressure on the fungicide — resistance in blight strains has been a growing concern in recent years, in the U.K. as well as in the United States — it also resulted in a measurable yield increase. "This is one of those occasions where research confirms a common-sense, gut feeling," says OMEX ® agronomist Dean Konieczka. "Just like us, if a plant is healthy, well-fed and unstressed, it's less likely to succumb to pathogenic infection and disease. "Previous observations, anecdotal evidence and in-house research had all pointed towards promise in this area, so the trial with Nottingham University, arranged by OMEX ® in the UK, gave us the opportunity to put some proper science behind it. "There's a lot of misinformation about crop nutrition, a lot of pseudo-science. Nutrition isn't as closely regulated as that of agrochemicals," he explains, "and that can lead to some dubious claims being made." The replicated trials featured Cell Power ® Zynergy ® , a combination of copper, zinc and organic acids. Formulated to provide enhanced 'bio-availability' — a term describing how easily the target plant can absorb and utilize the product — Dean says the product is ideal for use in an integrated crop management (ICM) program as a means of enhancing fungicidal activity. Besides blight, the product is also an effective additive in measures against rust and downy mildew. Both copper and zinc fulfil vital roles in plant metabolism, but they are especially important in supporting the crop's immune system. Zinc serves to maintain what's known as the 'integumentary' system. Comprising the epidermis, leaf cuticle and plant hairs, it's the first line of defense against physical damage and attack from pathogens. High levels of zinc improve elasticity, wound healing and disease suppression. Copper, meanwhile, is a crucial component in the production of phenolic compounds. This large Don't ignore nutrition in fight against late blight ADVERTISEMENT

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