Control pests & diseases
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Using solutions from nature itself. That is what we do at Koppert Biological Systems. Together with growers and in partnership with nature, we work to make agriculture and horticulture healthier, safer, more productive and resilient. We achieve this by using natural enemies and micro-organisms to combat pests and plant diseases, bumblebees for natural pollination, and biostimulants that support and strengthen the crops both above and underground.
We firmly believe in the power of nature. Working with nature requires a holistic approach which makes the cultivation of food crops environmentally friendly and free of chemical residue.
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To the typical farmer, the onset of rains signifies a new crop season, while for the rose grower, seasonality is primarily market-driven. Rainfall is also necessary to replenish the much-required water sources like rivers, lakes and other reservoirs. Despite the good fortunes that come with the rains, the season is also characterised by disease epidemics. To most rose growers, Downy mildew and Botrytis still pose the greatest risk of developing into full blown epidemics, which if not properly managed could easily ravage the crop and cause massive economic losses. Koppert Biological Systems offers sustainable IPM programs to growers that allow them to maintain healthy crops with minimal reliance on chemical pesticides. We believe that management of Downy mildew and Botrytis need not be a puzzle every rainy season. An integrated disease management strategy should combine good cultural practices, strengthening of the crop’s ability to fight diseases and timely prophylactic applications of products. This technique coupled with the use of effective products that target many aspects of disease development, is the most reliable and sustainable approach. Advancement in knowledge of plant chemistry and plant interaction with the environment has led to formulation of innovative products that are effective and safe to both the crop and the environment. One such product is NoPath from Koppert, which is based on plant essential oils. It is highly recommended for an integrated crop management strategy to reduce incidences of Downy mildew and Botrytis in roses. NoPath has a unique mode of action that benefits the crop in numerous ways, which contribute to the holistic approach of disease management. Besides strengthening the crop’s natural ability to fight disease, the product has quick and excellent curative effect on both diseases. Growers who have used NoPath even in incidences of disease outbreak, have observed quick recovery of affected areas of the crop. In addition to its outstanding effectiveness, NoPath has no implication of chemical residues on the crop. It is also safe to the roots and contributes to the general growth of the crop by increasing tolerance to abiotic stress. NoPath offers unique flexibility in the choice of the application method. The product can be drenched through the irrigation system (to be taken up by the plant) or it can be sprayed using the standard spray equipment. Currently, rose growers in Kenya use NoPath confidently on virtually all varieties as part of their disease management strategy, as well as for the additional crop growth benefits. Whereas there are many options of chemical fungicides to choose from, effective and sustainable disease management requires an integrated approach.
The Kenya Meteorological Department has predicted that the current dry and hot conditions in the country will continue to prevail. As a result, the long rains growing season that usually starts in March and ends in May will be delayed. Whether this is just a cyclical pattern or the result of climate change is a subject for a separate debate. The delayed onset of rains is already causing anxiety among farmers as they ponder on the implications of this on their yields. Maize is undoubtedly the primary staple food in Kenya. Any factor that influences maize yields is therefore of key concern to farmers. Extraneous factors such as weather patterns notwithstanding, it is important for maize farmers to pay attention to all the good standard practices needed for optimum production. Firstly, the farmer needs to understand their agro ecological zone. This helps determine the climatic conditions ideal for maize production and informs correct hybrid seed choice. At this juncture, the farmer needs to understand the soil characteristics prevalent in their field. Maize is a nutrient intensive and requires adequate supplies of all nutrients for all growth stages. Fertile, well drained, well aerated and good textured soil is able to supply these nutrients. However, soil pH determines the availability of nutrients in the soil. pH is the level of acidity or alkalinity of the soil. Maize crops grow best at a soil pH of between 5.5 and 7.3, with pH 6.0–6.5 being optimal. In this range, nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus, calcium and magnesium are readily available. Nitrogen helps in establishment of healthy leaves, phosphorus for root formation, potassium for fruiting while secondary nutrients such as calcium and magnesium among others are critical for crop physiological functions. Soil testing helps establish the available nutrients and the remedial steps that need to be undertaken in case of deficiencies. Fertile soil should be well prepared for sowing. The correct tillage method ensures ample availability of all plant nutrients, water retention and reduced incidences of pests and diseases. It is important for the farmer to prepare for sowing by selecting the correct seed. Indeed, good seed doesn’t cost, it pays. In the case of maize, “good seed” often equates to good hybrid seed. Commercially acquired certified seeds are as a standard practice dressed with a fungicide and an insecticide to prevent diseases and insects respectively. A novel and growing practice is the further dressing with beneficial microorganisms such as Panoramix to ensure robust growth characterised by well-established root system. This improves nutrient and water use efficiency, resulting in a healthy resilient crop able to achieve higher yields. In addition, the correct sowing depth will ensure uniform emergence and good plant population. During, sowing it is crucial to use the right nutrient sources which include organic manure and fertilizers. Organic manure should be applied few weeks before sowing. For better fertilizer efficiency, it is important to use the 4R principles, which are the four ‘rights’ of fertilizer management i.e. apply the right source of nutrient at the right rate, at the right time and in the right place. Maize also requires ‘booster nitrogen’ over the growing period. It is important to top dress after 25-30 days of sowing and do the final top dressing after 20-25 days of first top dressing. It should be noted that the emergence, comes with other unwanted plants that compete with maize for nutrients. It is important to remove the unwanted plants by weeding regularly. If all these steps are followed, and the weather patterns are favourable, then the farmer is guaranteed of a bumper harvest. We take this opportunity to wish all maize farmers a highly productive season.
Koppert’s product, Panoramix, continues to perform very well in different regions of Kenya. This seed dressing product for use in cereals is based on beneficial microorganisms that promote plant growth. Panoramix is applied directly to the seeds before planting. To obtain the best results, the seeds should be sown immediately after treatment. The unique liquid formulation makes it easy to apply and guarantees a uniform dressing. Panoramix delivers the following benefits: 1. It improves crop vigour and makes the crop more resilient 2. It boosts the plant’s resistance to insufficient moisture and other types of abiotic stress 3. It strengthens and improves the root system 4. It increases yield (an average increase of 3-4 bags per acre) 5. It is safe for people, plants and the environment The application procedure is as directed below: 1. Shake the product for about one minute and measure the right quantity of Panoramix 2. Put the seeds in a drum or any other mixing equipment and add Panoramix 3. Mix for about five minutes until a uniform dressing is achieved 4. Leave the seeds to dry in a cool place (away from the sun) for about 20-30 minutes before planting or bagging. NB: Sow the seeds immediately or in not more than 30 days! For more information about the product click here: Panoramix