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A new season brings new challenges

The Irish horticultural sector is facing severe pressure due to market challenges, input costs and several longstanding issues

With the new growing season come new challenges for growers. Ian Todd, ICL technical area sales manager for Scotland looks at some of these and how to over come them



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21 April 2016

A new season has begun and growers are under even more pressure to produce crops within a short period at a competitive price.  In recent years this has become even more challenging with the loss of chemical fungicides making it harder to keep plants healthy. Nurseries are also under pressure to maximise production whilst keeping labour costs down so plant protection products that can be incorporated in to growing media mixes are proving popular.

By the time fungal outbreaks have been identified it is all too often too late to treat, or the chemical product relied on in the past is no longer registered for use in the UK.  As a result growers are coming under pressure to look at alternatives to chemicals and are becoming more proactive in adapting their cultural practices to reduce the risk of outbreaks like Botrytis, Pythium, Rhizoctonia, Phytophthora and Fusarium.

Working with growers ICL is looking at biological alternatives we can either incorporate in to growing media, or apply to plants as a foliar spray to help provide protection from fungal diseases before they become a problem.


Prestop is one such biofungicide which as part of our ICL solutions plan can help fight the threat of diseases throughout the growing cycle. Prestop contains the mycelia and spores of   a highly aggressive naturally occurring soil fungus Gliocladium catenulatum Strain J1446.  Able to survive in the rhizosphere, around the roots, and on foliage for several weeks, it attacks and suppresses a wide range of pathogens.

For convenience and accuracy, Prestop can now be premixed into growing media and can be reapplied later in season by drench via a dosatron (to provide protection against root diseases), or sprayed on to plants (protection from foliar diseases).

Prestop provides a number of very useful disease control benefits to a wide range of cropping situations, for example:

  • Approved biopesticide, safe for beneficials, compatible with many pesticides (check with ICL) and can be used in IPM systems.
  • NEW – can now be incorporated by ICL at the time of growing media production through our Levington Advance Solutions plan
  • Alternatively, Prestop be used as foliar or drench application on the nursery site
  • Does not cause plant scorch, like many chemical products
  • No harvest interval.

Product Reviews

Innovative nurseries, such as Clockhouse Nursery at Enfield, are already incorporating Prestop in to their Levington Advance Solutions bespoke mixes.  This 13-acre nursery annually produces over 1 million quality patio, bedding, perennial, shrubs and trees as well as fruit and vegetable plants on site  – sold through its busy plant focused retail unit.

A high volume streamline operation, owner David Mills is constantly on the look out for time and labour saving innovations.   Delighted with the results achieved with Prestop, he says damping off has almost been eliminated from the nursery – with just a few isolated outbreaks linked to occasional issues with the irrigation system.

As part of our ongoing through product testing programme, Prestop is currently being trialed on a wide range of crops from bedding and heathers to cell grown trees. We are also trialing it within our peat based, peat reduced and peat free growing media mixes.

Nurseries involved in the trials are

  • Stairway Trees    – Peat Free Trees
  • Cheviot Trees      – Cell Grown Trees
  • Pathhead Nurseries      – Bedding Plants
  • Perthshire Heathers    – Heathers
  • Galloway Heathers      – Heathers

As soon as data is available from these trials we shall be communicating it to all our customers and plan to share the results at the Four Oaks Trade Show in September.

If you are interested in becoming involved in new trials work to help us evolve current and help bring new products to market, click here to find your Technical Area Sales Manager who will be happy to talk to you.

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