• Koenraad Duhem

Manage Clubroot Infestation with Microbial Enhanced Farming

Updated: Feb 1

Clubroot is a serious soil-borne disease that affects crops like canola, mustard and camelina. Clubroot causes swells to form on the root of the plant which reduces the plants' ability to access sufficient want and nutrients, ultimately causing early death of the plant and limiting yield potential. Clubroot is an aggressive pathogen with a half-life of two to four years and can survive in the soil for up to twenty years. Federal and provincial agriculture agencies have been monitoring clubroot infestations for the past ten plus years documenting the growing distribution patterns of the pathogen across the provinces.

The clubroot causing agent is a Plasmophoridae which is a type of primitive eukaryotic fungi. Some of these primitive fungi are found in the Oomycetes class which is a type of pathogen known as “water molds”. The Oomycetes class contains the Phytophthora genus, which is a pathogenic oomycete. The Oomycete class also contains the Pythium genus, which is a parasitic oomycete. The Pythium genus contains species that are parasitic to Phytophthora, therefore they can be used as a biocontrol against the Phytophthora genus.

HumaTerra soil enhancers are developed to improve the overall health of soil structure in your fields and to help reinforce the integrity of the roots and the crop by providing a barrier to prevent pathogen invasion of the root epidermic cell defences. When applied this diverse community of beneficial organisms will establish themselves in the ecosystem and compete for nutrients. Diversified flora may be antagonistic (an organism that suppresses normal growth/ activity of a plant pathogen) or might be parasitic (obtain all or part of nutrients from another plant). The decomposers in our soil enhancers help reduce plant residues in the field that harbour pathogens and more importantly these activities improve soil porosity. All of which contribute to mitigating clubroot pathogen pressure in the soil.

There is currently no definitive chemical solution to clubroot infection. Fungicides can be poorly specific and will cause collateral harm to useful microorganisms in the soil that your crops need. HumaTerra’s regenerative approach is not to kill off the pathogen with high amounts of fungicide. Our strategy is to cause the pathogen to be weakened and less competitive while raising the level of resistance of the crop and creating a more favourable ecosystem in your fields.

Koenraad Duhem is a co-founder and the Director of Technologies and Strategic Development for HumaTerra. He has a 20-year long experience as Scientific Director in the French dairy industry and livestock sector. Long intrigued by the fertility of pasture soils and their potential to sequester carbon, in 2016, Koenraad decided to take a sabbatical to enable him to have a closer look at how a restored soil microbiology could help farmers grow better crops and achieve better margins while improving their main asset– the land. Koenraad can be reached at k.duhem@htregen.com.

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