14TSB_ESAP Electrolyzed water in crop protection

Lead Research Organisation: National Inst of Agricultural Botany
Department Name: Centre for Research

Abstract

Electrolysed water is a chemically simple method of generating hypochlorous acid from water, but requires advanced engineering to deliver effective application to target. Hypochlorous acid is a well known anti-microbial and biocidal agent which is capable of disrupting fungal and bacterial cell walls and preventing successful germination or establishment of infection in crop plants. Furthermore, there is evidence that the pathogen cell wall degradation products liberated during the process are capable of triggering plant immune systems and potentially stimulating a systemic acquired resistance (SAR) response, providing longer lasting protection against pathogens.This project will use novel electrochemical techniques to generate effective and non-phytotoxic concentrations of hypochlorous acid in the outdoor or indoor growing environment.The effectiveness of the system, integrated with conventional plant protection products, will be tested with a panel of key high value host crops which have major disease problems where standard control measures are inefficient, or under threat due to environmental and regulatory concerns. Such pressures will increasingly encourage the incorporation of novel approaches into crop protection programmes with the aim of reducing chemical active levels and providing methods of safe disease suppression close to harvest. This research aims to faciltate the entry of a novel crop protection agent, and the engineering system which enables its delivery, to salads and field vegetable production systems. It addresses major regulatory issues which are impacting on production and will take system development through from laboratory
investigation to commercial demonstration of working equipment which is ready for sale.

Technical Summary

Electrolysed water is a chemically simple method of generating hypochlorous acid from water, but requires advanced engineering to deliver effective application to target. Hypochlorous acid is a well known anti-microbial and biocidal agent
which is capable of disrupting fungal and bacterial cell walls and preventing successful germination or establishment of infection in crop plants. Furthermore, there is evidence that the pathogen cell wall degradation products liberated during the process are capable of triggering plant immune systems and potentially stimulating a systemic acquired resistance (SAR) response, providing longer lasting protection against pathogens.This project will use novel electrochemical techniques to generate effective and non-phytotoxic concentrations of hypochlorous acid in the outdoor or indoor growing environment. The effectiveness of the system, integrated with conventional plant protection products, will be tested with a panel of key high value host crops which have major disease problems where standard control measures are inefficient, or under threat due to environmental and regulatory concerns. Such pressures will increasingly encourage the incorporation of novel
approaches into crop protection programmes with the aim of reducing chemical active levels and providing methods of safe disease suppression close to harvest. This research aims to faciltate the entry of a novel crop protection agent, and the engineering system which enables its delivery, to salads and field vegetable production systems. It addresses major regulatory issues which are impacting on production and will take system development through from laboratory investigation to commercial demonstration of working equipment which is ready for sale.

Planned Impact

The research described will have immediate impact on the production sector involved in field vegetable and salad crops, and the protected tomato crop. It will provide them with the opportunity to use a safe crop protection system with zero
residue issues. The impact could be realised as soon as the project finishes, since the application system can be fitted to existing equipment and used without
the need for product registration. Though the system is intended for conventional production, the organic sector could see a particularly significant impact. Policy makers and regulators will also see an immediate impact, as the project will provide a route for the reduction of conventional active ingredients, which may in turn prolong the availability of those actives for use at critical points in the production process. Food processors (eg packers) will benefit as there should be less product
wastage since healthier material arrives from the field. Retailers will benefit through enhanced shelf life and storability and better product appearance. They will face potentially fewer instances of failure to meet minimum residue levels, and will
gain market advantage through the promotion to customers of reduced agrochemical input production systems. Public understanding and acceptance of plant protection systems could be improved. Healthier plants at harvest are more likely to retain levels of compounds beneficial to human health (eg antioxidants, vitamins) for a longer period than plants whichharbour low levels of disease or surface contaminants and which may result in more rapid degradation . Health benefits could be realised in the wider public and in commercial catering.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description New data on efficacy of this product for effective plant disease control. The products tested were effective, and were taken to field trials in the final phase of the poject. Some forumulations reduced the severity of an important disease of wheat (Zymoseptoria tritici), and potentially could be used in control programmes to reduce pathogen population and mitigate against the evolution of fungicide resistance. However, commercial project partners have been unable to proceed in the crop protection sector due to high cost of product registration. Registration for this type of product became manadatory during the course of the project
Exploitation Route Commercial exploitation by project partners
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink