|Authors: ||E.G. Kidane, M.D. Laing|
|Keywords: ||endophytes, Fusarium oxysporum, mulch, silicon, Trichoderma|
The global importance of Fusarium wilt of banana (Musa spp.) has been widely documented.
The lack of viable control options, and its significance to the livelihood of millions of people around the world, makes it particularly important.
In the absence of a single effective control method, control efforts are moving towards the integration of multiple control methods.
In this study, the integration of biological and agronomic control methods was investigated.
Single and combined applications of non-pathogenic, endophytic Fusarium oxysporum strains, Trichoderma harzianum Eco-T® (Plant Health Products (Pty) Ltd., KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa), silicon and mulching using macadamia husks were tested against F. oxysporum f. sp. cubense on bananas under greenhouse and field conditions.
The non-pathogenic F. oxysporum strains were effective biocontrol agents against Fusarium wilt of banana.
Amendment with potassium silicate to plants exposed to the non-pathogenic F. oxysporum strains improved plant health of cold-stressed banana plants compared to those treated with endophytes only.
A field trial was conducted at a KwaZulu-Natal South Coast banana plantation, where Fusarium wilt of banana is a serious problem.
Plants that were treated with combinations of non-pathogenic F. oxysporum, T. harzianum Eco-T®, silicon and mulch had significantly higher number of leaves, stem height and girth size than single applications of the treatments.
Mulching increased growth of feeder roots.
Integration of biocontrol with agronomic practices may improve the efficacy of the biocontrol organisms and the health of the host plants, which may be sensitive to environmental changes.
For instance, mulching encourages growth of feeder roots and creates a conducive microenvironment, thereby increasing microbial activity in the soil.
This study demonstrated that the combined application of biocontrol organisms, silicon and mulching can provide an effective control option for banana growers dealing with Fusarium wilt in their plantations.
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