In a NIAB EMR orchard trial, a crop of cherries treated with a silicon biostimulant showed a 50% reduction in the number of emerging spotted wing drosophila (SWD) larvae.
The application of Rigel G, a bioactive silicon product manufactured by Orion Future Technologies (Orion FT), is the first to demonstrate how a cherry crop can be enhanced to resist SWD. Kate Williams, Technical Manager at Orion FT explains: “We used one litre of Rigel G per hectare and applied it three times during the ripening process to increase the puncture resistance of the fruit. The silicon in Rigel G increased the cuticle thickness of the plant and strengthened internal structures which helped to repel the SWD larvae.”
Rigel G makes silicon available to enhance the plant’s natural defences. Unique iNHIB technology, created by Orion FT, delivers silicon to the plant as a stable, bioactive monosilicic acid which, when absorbed, strengthens the plant and the fruit. “SWD appeared in 2012 and we have since been looking for a way to protect crops against this fruit fly species which has a serrated ovipositor enabling it to lay eggs in ripening fruit. The larvae subsequently feed on the fruit, and this is estimated to cost the fruit industry £30m in damage every year,” says Kate Williams.
The use of Rigel G also demonstrated the effect silicon has on the elicitor properties of the plant. “Silicon stimulates the natural defence mechanism of the plant to help it deal with stress. By strengthening the structure of the plant, silicon also helps to boost its natural pest-repelling ability.”
Further trials on fruit have been carried out with similar results. “In a trial with the University of Reading we were able to show that blueberries treated with Rigel G saw a reduction of almost 50% in SWD larvae. The combination of our iNHiB technology with selected plant extracts provides a dual approach to integrated pest management that will help fruit growers to reduce losses in the future,” concludes Kate.