Siberian scientists found ideal agent to protect potatoes

Siberian scientists found ideal agent to protect potatoes

April 01, 2024

Tests have shown that birch sawdust helps protect the plant’s roots and tubers from fungus.

#ARCTIC. #SIBERIA. THIS IS TAIMYR. Specialists from the Siberian Federal University (SFU) have improved the method of protecting potatoes from fungal diseases using special preparations – fungicides. Scientists have found the optimal packaging in which the drug works effectively while in the soil.

Birch sawdust is used as packaging material, TASS reports with reference to the Russian Education and Science Ministry’s press service. According to their information, Siberian biotechnologists have developed special granules measuring five to seven millimeters into which the fungicide can be placed and gradually released in microdoses, providing a smooth protective effect on the root system and potato tubers.

The composition of such granules includes poly-3-hydroxybutyrate and crushed birch sawdust – the resulting granules are shaped like small wood pellets.

The choice of filler was due to the fact that, according to the experiment results, it was birch sawdust that proved to be an ideal agent, unlike clay, peat and other materials. The sawdust absorbs moisture, and the granule made from it slowly breaks down, releasing the fungicide into the soil.

At the same time, sawdust is a cheap and accessible raw material. In the meantime, they are trying to use environmentally friendly biopolymers as a filler, which gradually decompose into carbon dioxide and water. But these substances are quite expensive.

“Potatoes are often affected by fungal diseases, mainly the root part and tubers. Standard treatment involves pre-sowing application of fungicides. Then, when their effect weakens, the potato fields have to be further processed during the summer. Our method is much simpler – granules with fungicide are applied once and continue to act throughout the growing season until harvesting”, said Svetlana Prudnikova, the Siberian University’s Biotechnology Department’s professor.

Tests were carried out in the laboratory, as well as at a test site in the Suhobuzimsky district of the Krasnoyarsk region. Potatoes grown in laboratory conditions on soil with fungicides supplied from biogranules showed early germination, and plant pathogen damage did not exceed ten percent. Tuber weights were 30 percent higher, and yield increases ranged from 60 to 70 percent.

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Text: Larisa Fedishina, Photo: Olga Zaderyaka

April 01, 2024

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