Plant Health: Research To Reality

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Greenhouse and nursery growers have struggled more and more with wise use of water, unpredictable weather patterns and disease control. These issues have made the emergence of technology that can deliver plant health benefits to mitigate these problems more welcome than ever.

At BASF we have been studying plant heath for more than 10 years in agricultural crops. The beginnings of this were in the early 2000s, when BASF launched several fungicides into the crop market that were based on its proprietary active ingredient pyraclostrobin.

As with many new products, you don’t often see their true potential until they are adopted by the marketplace. As they were used for disease control growers noticed additional plant health benefits, which led to BASF’s research in this area.

For example, farmers using these fungicides report higher yields in many crops such as wheat, corn and soybeans. Corn stalks are stronger, leading to more efficient harvest, and crops were better able to tolerate stresses such as heat, drought, and cold, than those that were not treated with a pyraclostrobin-based fungicide.

Further research by BASF indicated that plant health effects delivered by these fungicides included increased plant efficiency via more efficient photosynthesis and better use of nitrogen. This research also uncovered evidence of increased plant tolerance to stress through a decrease in ethylene production and an increase in antioxidant activity.

So on the crop side the plant health evidence was, well, evident. The next step fell to BASF Professional Turf & Ornamentals in determining whether its pyraclostrobin-based products could deliver improved plant health for turf professionals and greenhouse and nursery growers.

After three years of research in turf, BASF launched the Intrinsic brand in fall of 2010.  Intrinsic is an umbrella brand for all products that have the words “plant health” on the product label. In turf, BASF launched Honor® Intrinsic™ brand fungicide and Insignia® SC Intrinsic brand fungicide to help superintendents manage stress on golf courses. Honor and Insignia SC Intrinsic help turf to overcome stress events such as drought, extreme temperatures and aerification through root system retention.  

As of 2012, BASF has been researching plant health with ornamentals for more than five years. I’m pleased to report this research proves plant health in ornamentals when plants are treated with our pyraclostrobin-based fungicide called Pageant® Intrinsic brand fungicide.
Plants are less stressed during temperature extremes and drought conditions, recover more quickly after shipping, and have greater fresh weight and fewer damaged leaves when treated with Pageant Intrinsic. Pageant Intrinsic launches this month and we will share specifics on the above points and more information later this series.

And the journey now includes taking part in this series with Greenhouse Grower to learn what others have seen, and how growers can experience proven plant health benefits at their own operations. I’m confident we will all learn and benefit from the discourse.

Thavy Staal is the marketing manager for BASF Professional Turf & Ornamentals.

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