Colombia: Researchers create pesticide against plague that attacks potatoes

Did you know that there are about 130 thousand hectares of potatoes in Colombia? However, one of the problems that the potato faces is the Tecia solanivora, also known as the potato moth. This dangerous pest attacks potato crops, causing damage to the tubers.

The potato moth can cause losses of up to 50% in the field and 100% in storage warehouses, according to studies. Even though many growers use insecticides in crops, they are inefficient because the most voracious stage of the insect develops under ground (inside the tuber), out of reach of these products.

Faced with this situation, experts from the Antonio Nariño University, the National University, the Pedagogical and Technological University of Colombia, and Colciencias proved that the most effective way to combat this disease was with rhizobacteria, a new treatment with natural and beneficial bacteria.

"Rhizobacteria are capable of directly or indirectly activating the systemic resistance induced in plants against insects, through the salicylate-jasmonate and ethylene pathways, which are key plant hormones that regulate induced systemic resistance," said Javier Vanegas, the director of this project.

Healthy environment
According to the researchers, the microorganisms supply the plant with nutrients, protect it from fungi, bacteria, and insect attacks; thus mitigating conditions such as dehydration or flooding of the crop. In return, the plant supplies rhizobacteria with an environment rich in carbon sources and other limiting elements in the soil that are essential for the development of these beneficial bacteria.

According to Vanegas, an overdose of chemical insecticides in crops cause serious problems, such as a 14% increase in production costs, loss of competitiveness, increase in the probability that pests develop resistance to the product's active agents, reduction of beneficial fauna populations, increase of pesticide residues in tubers, soil, water, and air, intoxication of humans and animals.

In order to put this project into practice, it is necessary to inoculate the seeds of the tuber with the rhizobacteria before or after sowing, after having analyzed the different natural and biological conditions.


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