Trichoderma is a fungus found in the soil, in several regions and climates of the world. It colonizes decaying wood, mushrooms and wooden ears, and acts against other fungi that pose a threat to different plant species. There's its importance in agriculture. It is also considered one of the most important biological agents in the control of diseases in at least 14 different crops such as soybeans, cotton, corn, coffee, vegetables and fruit growing.
It acts against pathogens that attack various cultures such as Fusarium spp. (red root rot), Sclerotinia sclerotiorum (white mold) and Rhizoctonia solani (root rot). They range from liquid to solid formulations. As for the cost of application in soybean varies from one bag to one bag and a half per hectare, similar to the application of chemical fungicides.
Results in white mold
Sclerotinia sclerotiorum, for example, is the cause of white mold in soybean. Embrapa estimates that approximately 10 million hectares (1/3 of the total area) of oilseed cultivation are infested by the fungus that can cause productivity losses in the 70% period.
Tests conducted in different producing regions of Paraná, Rio Grande do Sul, Minas Gerais, Bahia, Goiás and Mato Grosso do Sul, by public and private research institutions, show that only chemical control has not worked, with the need to introduce a biological product to combat the causative fungus in the off-season. The straw that is on the soil increases the organic matter, which serves as a substrate for Trichoderma, and the maintenance of moisture and reduction of the surface temperature of the soil, fundamental conditions for the establishment of the biological control agent. With colonization, Sclerotinia sclerotiorum meets its villain.
According to Professor Sérgio Mazaro, from the Federal Technological University of Paraná (UTFPR), in soybean the research results showed good results in the most aggressive pathogens. "In addition to direct action, Trichoderma acts in various ways and activates the plant's defense mechanisms, which, in addition to fighting the pathogen, can help defend other leaf pathogens," he explains.
Incentive x challenges to biologicals
With the recent launch of the National Bioinsumos Program, by the Ministry of Agriculture, it is expected to advance the research and development of new solutions that will be based on Brazilian biodiversity, which includes fungi. A public consultation of the Map is even open to update the legislation of bioinsumos records.
According to markets & markets, the global biopesticides market is growing 15% a year, expected to reach $16.7 billion over the next four years. In Brazil, the biological market is also expanding. Sales of these products jumped from R$262.40 million in 2017 to R$ 464.5 million in 2018, an increase of 77%, according to a survey by CropLife Brasil. In biofungicides, the increase was 148% in 2018.
Today there are at least 246 Trichoderma-based biological products registered in different countries. Among the various species present in nature, Trichoderma harzianum is the most commonly used in the biological control of plant diseases, present in 38% of products.
But there are also challenges to be overcome for the biopesticides market to grow, maintaining quality and efficiency. One of the main ones is the adjustment between scale production and distribution and transportation logistics, by the territorial dimension of Brazil. "We have challenges from rice and grape in the South to melon in the Northeast and soybeans in different regions. Brazil is very large so we have to adapt the regions knowing that the product is a living organism and needs to arrive well in the field, whether for seed treatment or foliar application", highlights Juliano Cesar da Silva, regulatory affairs manager at Biotrop.
Another aspect to be improved is the application in the field. The fungus should be kept in special conditions of temperature and humidity and follow the application recommendations to maintain the working power.
Finally, conducting more research to define dosage, application forms, environmental conditions at the time of application, soil cover condition, application compatibility with other products, is critical to improve the potential.
Publication gathers all the information about Trichoderma
Presence in the world, uses in agriculture, how to apply according to pathogen and target, how to observe environmental and straw issues for effective, rational and sustainable use. Global and Brazilian market. All this information is gathered in the publication "Trichoderma – use in agriculture", launched on Tuesday (23), in a virtual press conference.
The publication is edited by Embrapa and has as authors the researcher of Embrapa Soja and specialist in Plant Protection, Maurício Conrado Meyer, the professor of the Federal Technological University of Paraná (UTFPR) and specialist in Phytopathology, Sérgio Miguel Mazaro and the manager of regulatory affairs of Biotrop.e specialist in Plant Protection, Juliano Cesar da Silva (Biotrop).
"We hope it will serve as an incentive for further research in the future, as there is still much to study," Meyer explains. For Silva, Brazil is ahead of many countries on the issue of biologicals. "Brazil has been leveraging biological control in the world and I believe it has the potential to expand further," Silva said.
For Mazaro the trend is worldwide. "In Europe we see a reduction in chemicals and advances in biologicals. For our export it is essential to be more effective in using natural solutions. More and more products require traceability. I have no doubt that we will be the country that will use the most", he concludes.
The publication is free and can be downloaded from this link.