a collaboration with the CSIRO

Soil and stubble-borne fungal diseases of wheat and canola cost Australian farmers >$250m p.a.* In 2018, Nufarm began work to bring a uniquely Australian solution from CSIRO to the next phase of development.

With the increase of continuous cropping of canola in Australia, the incidence of the fungal disease sclerotinia is also increasing across the country. At the same time, the number of traditional fungicide products available to control sclerotinia, has been declining. There is a real need to find biological alternatives to this significant fungal disease.

The CSIRO have isolated a range of bacteria from soils of Western Australia and shown them to be highly active against a range of fungal diseases, including sclerotinia.

In 2018 Nufarm commenced working with the CSIRO in a collaboration to develop a new biological product active against sclerotinia based on these bacteria.

To be commercially viable, the product must:

  • offer reliable field control of sclerotinia fungal disease in canola, equivalent to the current industry conventional chemistry standards;

  • demonstrate long term product stability across a range of conditions; and

  • be able to be produced reliably at scale at a consistent level of quality and at a competitive cost.

So far, glasshouse trials have validated that the bacterial preparations are effective against sclerotinia fungal infection in canola.

The chosen bacterial strain can be produced by the CSIRO using the first iteration of the production system which is continuing to be improved.

Nufarm have developed different formulations of the first-generation products and these have been successfully tested in glasshouse and field trials. These trials confirmed the best formulation technologies to further improve the product performance against sclerotinia.

In the 2020 canola season, second generation products were successfully field trialed in all major canola growing areas in Australia to assess product performance across a wide range of environmental conditions and disease pressure

Further improvements were made for the 2021 season and will be assessed before moving to the Northern hemisphere in major canola and oilseed rape countries across Europe and North America where sclerotinia is also a significant problem.

A future opportunity is to further investigate the activity of the new product against other fungal diseases in other crops which the CSIRO has demonstrated activity against.

*Murray and Brennan, 2009; Murray and Brennan, 2012.

Hear from CSIRO about how we’re working together and what they think of Nufarm as a Partner for Growth.