Fungal diseases such as botrytis, or ‘grey mould’, have the potential to destroy crops of fruit and vegetables and cost farmers fortunes in lost crops, while driving up prices for consumers. In order to mitigate the risks posed by fungal disease, the application of fungicide has become common practice in crop management. However, the use of synthetic fungicides has become highly controversial in view of their potential impact on the environment and the residues they may leave on food produce. Public opinion shows concern about such agricultural practice and a low understanding of their benefits.
Sustainable growing with Gowan
Given the targets to increase organic farming and reduce the use of chemical fungicides in Europe laid out in the EU’s 2030 Biodiversity Strategy, Gowan – a crop protection solutions company – has made a concerted effort over the past decade towards grower solutions, environmental stewardship, and sustainability.
Working closely with its partner Ecoflora Agro in a joint venture, Gowan created a novel bio-fungicide extracted from Swinglea glutinosa, a shrub plant abundant in the countryside of Colombia. Noticing that Swinglea leaves manifested no sign of the fungal diseases that blighted other crops, researchers decided to investigate the possible reasons for the plant’s immunity. This led to the identification of the active ingredient responsible for the Swinglea plant’s fungicidal properties and the development, production and trial of the novel bio-fungicide which is now commercially available in Latin America and the USA under the trade name ECOSWING®.
Green fungicide coming soon to the EU
Gowan’s botanical extract has been recognised as the best new bio-fungicide product at the 2019 Global Biopesticide Awards, while also being touted as ‘one of the world’s best biopesticides’ by the prestigious Bernard Blum Award at the Annual Biocontrol Industry Meeting in Switzerland. The novel bio-fungicide has been submitted for registration in the EU under the trade name PERIMETER®. It will provide EU farmers with an effective natural solution that can help reduce the use of chemical fungicides to control grey mould diseases in vegetables and vineyards, and apple scab. For example, it is estimated that about 600,000 tons of synthetic fungicides are applied every year on European vineyards for controlling grey mould. Gowan believes that their new bio-fungicide could replace 10% of it.
Gowan’s novel bio-fungicide is a key step towards a growing green initiative of the company’s portfolio. This addition will help the European community reach the Green Deal’s objectives to reduce conventional pesticide use and support the lowering of pesticide residues in food.
Gowan is a family-owned company headquartered in Yuma, Arizona, whose presence in Europe has increased considerably in the last decade. The company’s core business is providing crop protection solutions to farmers focusing on niche crops and small farmers (ie, mostly for fruits and vegetables) commonly overlooked by the larger crop protection companies sometimes leaving these farmers without a solution.