Do it yourself tonic for crops on the horizon?

Ciba-Geigy has released a 'tonic' in Europe designed to help plants use their own natural defence systems to fight disease.

The 'tonic' is a chemical activator which acts by raising natural levels of resistance to many types of fungal and bacterial pathogens. It is not a fungicide or pesticide.

The activator is rapidly taken up from foliar sprays or soil applications. It binds to receptor proteins throughout the plant and causes the release of defensive systems, including pathogenesis-related proteins.

First activator registered

At present the Ciba-Geigy tonic is registered in Germany and Switzerland. But Brian Deverall at Sydney University has been researching activators for some years and says it may be time to test this technique in Australia. "Eastern Australia still has some diseases — mainly root diseases — for which there is no control. We still need to test the new technology against these diseases."