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October 24, 2020

Science Cast

Bridging the gap between Scientists and the Public

Glucinolates as biotechnology tool in controlling crop diseases and Pathogen

2 min read

Pests, weeds, diseases has proved to be challenge on food production, and controlling them is  also difficult due to high costs of pesticides, herbicides and other chemicals used in the farm that pose great threat to environment. This has left farmers with few options to choose from.

Farmers now adopts organic farming to increase chances of there produce being accepted in the Export and local market. Glucinolates (natural components of many pungent plants such as mustard, cabbage, and horseradish ) a biotechnological and organic tool might be the only way out for the farmers. Glucinolates controls pests, weeds and remove soil diseases.

How Glucinolates work in controlling soil pathogens

Glucinolates are applied to the field through bio-fumigation .During bio-fumigation process, a farmer use crops  with high glucinolate content (preferably brassica family), which he/she crushes to produce oil like mastered oil containing isothiocyanates (naturally occurring small molecules that are formed from glucosinolate of cruciferous vegetables). The isothiocyanates prevents the germination of any seed in soil.

The glucosinolates destroys a group of important enzymes in the pest cousing irritation on the pest respiration system causing  death

The glucosinolates isothiocyanates also removes; stress in crops, nematodes like potato cyst nematodes. Pests such as Fusarium oxysporum, Rhizoctonia solani, Pythium spp, and Verticillium dahlia. These pests affect crops such as tomato, cucumber, pepper.

Biofumigation process

  • Crush the tissues of the crop(cabbage or kale) to release mastered oil containing the toxic glucosinolate isothiocyanates.
  • Mix the crops with farm soil in the field when fresh and spread the crop evenly
  • Water the field until it becomes a floody
  • Cover the field with a plastic film for a period of 3 weeks. The plastic helps conserve gases produced during fumigation
  • Remove the plastic film and plant your crops after a period of 24 hours

Root products of cabbages and kales during there growth also fumigates soil thus should be used as an intercrop or for green manure purposes.

How glucinolates control weeds

In Africa, kales and cabbages are brassica family crops consumed largely by small scale households. Cutting kales and washing them before cooking is common. The wastewater used to wash these kales or cabbage contains glucosinolates which is perfect for use in controlling weeds

Weed control process

  • Use wastewater from cabbage or kale and filter
  • Spray the water on your farm to help control weeds

Mulching process

Kales and cabbages make good mulching materials because of their glucosinolates contents that helps in controlling weeds such as Amaranthus hybridus among others.

The Use of glucosinolates in plant defense is a biotechnology that is yet to be explored.

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