On the assumption that there is nothing more unpleasant and annoying than insects buzzing around your plants (mainly around the base), especially knowing that they can ruin your garden: have you thought about tackling the problem from below? Yep. There are different available options of biological controls acting directly in the root zone, where these troublesome insects pupate in the growing media or where they get their food. What if you could prevent the problem at the source, rather than treating once the insects are present and multiplying at a glance?
Biofilm formed by Bacillus pulimus bacteria. Source: Premier Tech
Biological Controls of Insect: What Are We Dealing With?
Over the years, various biological controls have been developed and used by commercial growers for the control of insects above soil line. The natural enemies of insect pests are categorized as predators, parasitoids, and pathogens. Predators catch and eat their prey, compared to parasitoids that lay their eggs on, in or near their host insect to later feed on them. Pathogens are insect disease-causing organisms that infect them to become sick or interfere with their normal processes. While chemical pesticides ‘control’ insects, biological controls ‘suppress’ insects and offer another option in the grower’s ‘tool bag’. This is of interest for growers wanting to reduce the amount of chemical pesticide applications and for growers of organic crops. However, biological control of insects below soil line in the root zone can be a greater challenge, since there are less options available.
Insect Suppressing Bacteria: Bacillus to the Rescue
Have you ever heard of Bacillus pumilus? Early work in the 1990s, suggested that certain types of Bacillus bacteria could suppress certain soil insects. Basically, it is a natural bacterium that acts has a biofungicide. This Bacillus strain works in two modes of action: at the beginning, it colonizes the root system and grows on the roots. It helps to produce a physical barrier, a biofilm around the root system, which prevents the pathogens from growing into it. It protects the plant by reducing the incidence of plant root diseases (Fusarium, Pythium and Rhizoctonia), crown rot, and seedling rot disease. Bacillus also reduces the risk of pathogens that develop resistance to chemical fungicides. Finally, it produces a natural antibiotic which helps suppress organisms as well, like certain insects, including fungus gnats and thrips that pupate into the growing media, by suppressing their food sources and plant susceptibility.
Value-Added Growing Media: BIOFUNGICIDE + MYCORRHIZAE
Did you know that there are value-added growing media that not only allow you to have stronger and healthier plants, but also suppress these harmful insects? Yes. PRO-MIX® BIOFUNGICIDE + MYCORRHIZAE is the real deal! This growing media formulation acts at the source before an onset of an insect infestation with the Bacillus pumilus bacteria that is already formulated in the growing medium, making life easier for growers. Backed by more than 35 years of expertise in biological active ingredients, Premier Tech, the company behind the PRO-MIX® brand, came up with this innovation after years of research. The company masters a unique large-scale manufacturing process in aseptic laboratories that meets the highest quality control standards Proven consistency of viable spores, no contamination and reliable active ingredients: and that's their distinction! This line of growing media enhanced with high-performance active ingredients allows BIOFUNGICIDE (Bacillus pumilus) and MYCORRHIZAE (Glomus intraradices) to complement each other and work together to enhance plant performance, quality and yield.
With the added-value combination, Bacillus bacteria not only spread around teh roots, but also around the mycorrhizal hyphae, for optimal results. Source: Premier Tech
Since BIOFUNGICIDE is a Bacillus, all the benefits apply: It protects by reducing incidence of plant root diseases (Fusarium, Pythium and Rhizoctonia) and suppresses certain insects in the root zone, like Fungus gnats and thrips, that are a common problem for growers. EPA Reg #: 74267-4
Plant roots (larger structure) with extraradical mycorrhizal spores cluster. Endomycorrhizal fungi are microscopic. THis picture is enlarged 40 times with a microscope. Source: Premier Tech
The added MYCORRHIZAE, which is already well-recognized by cannabis growers, is a beneficial association between a mycorrhizal fungus and roots. Mycorrhizal spores germinate in the growing medium and produce filaments (hyphae) which will enter into plant root cells. This association allows the formation of an intra and extra-radical network of filaments that will explore the growing medium and provide better access to nutrients and water, and transfer them to the plant. By expanding the root system growth, the mycorrhizae enhance nutrient and water uptake for the plant, increase tolerance to stresses, and reduce transplant shock.
Does This Really Work?
Yes it does! Over the years, Premier Tech has conducted product demonstrations and also received reports from growers indicating reduction of fungus gnats and thrips in their greenhouse crops. A series of research experiments conducted over many years included several short-term bedding crops and long-term ornamental crops. Research results indicated that PRO-MIX® BIOFUNGICIDE + MYCORRHIZAE suppresses both insect pests, fungus gnats and thrips, to an average level of 30% and 22% respectively during the whole crop growing period. They also observed a reduction of fungus gnat infestation by 67%, for a specific time during plant culture. By reducing the fungal food sources of certain root zone dwelling insects with Bacillus pumilus bacteria, there is an indirect suppressive effect on insect populations.
Now that you know the option of preventing by treating from below rather than curing from above, it's time to try it!