Argentina: University develops natural pesticides for corn
Sep. 30, 2016
A multidisciplinary group of staff at the National University of Cordoba in Argentina has developed a biopesticide based on a natural composition for the control of the greater rice weevil in corn. Created by biologists, chemists, and microbiologists, the initiative was directed by Julio Zygadlo and took four years of work to produce the final product.
The process started with the extraction of essential oils of aromatic plants, some of which are native to Argentina, such as the peperina (Minthostachys verticillata) and garden thyme (Thymus vulgari). The goal was to identify the oil components and the levels of toxicity against plagues, especially against insects.
"The weevil that attacks corn is very damaging because it spends its entire life cycle within the grain, eating the endosperm – which is the basis of (the plant's) nutrient (content),” pointed out one of the researchers of the initiative, Jimena Herrera. She emphasized that the formulation obtained was based on natural compositions that utilized these essential oils, producing a synergy capable of combating the weevil without having a toxic effect on the crop.
According to the university, biopesticides should gain more traction in Argentine agriculture because they are not harmful to human health and the environment. Synthetic insecticides are used more often for the control of the greater rice weevil in the country – such as Phosphine (phosphorous Hydride - PH3) and bromomethane (methyl bromide), which are banned and restricted, respectively, by Argentina’s health ministry.
According to the researcher, the indiscriminate use of some pesticides has made some plagues resistant to these substances, leading to the use of higher application doses: “Facing this situation, we would note that there are some biopesticides available more effective than synthetic ones. Besides, they act faster and do not affect the raw material.”
So far, the National University of Cordoba’s tests have been done in vitro under controlled conditions. The goal of the researchers is to increase the scale of the experiment to prove that the product does not deteriorate in external environments. “In the laboratories, we obtained very good results, but it is necessary to expand the tests in the field. But for that, we need favorable state policies and financial support, as well as a change in the conception of agricultural practices,” noted Herrera.