MBI’ biofumigant Ennoble™ offers superior pre-plant control of soil-borne plant diseases and plant parasitic nematodes in agricultural soils
Aug. 10, 2018
MBI’s biofumigant has shown high efficacy in the control of key soil-borne diseases and pests, as well as increased yields, for a variety of crops such as strawberries, lettuce and celery. The product, which is currently referred to as MBI-601, is to be marketed as Ennoble. It has been approved by the United States Environmental Protection Agency and is awaiting approval by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation.
Now that it has EPA approval, Ennoble™ can be trialed on a demonstration basis in California, without crop destruction, under DPR research authorization. For organic producers, this new MBI product can be used as a stand-alone and may clearly offer better results than alternative soil treatments. For conventional growers, Ennoble can work as part of an integrated pest management program, giving relief from soil-borne diseases and nematodes, without the severe use restrictions that accompany existing chemical fumigants.
MBI has conducted studies evaluating the soil microbiome after treatment with Ennoble. Soils analyzed showed minimal to no impact on the microbial communities and microbial diversity present in the soil.
“While we have conducted official research trials in California to support key crop uses on the pending Ennoble label, MBI welcomes interested strawberry, carrot, lettuce and celery growers to contact MBI about participating in additional small-scale field evaluations planned for this fall,” said Pam Marrone, founder and CEO of MBI. “Based upon previous trials, we know the use of Ennoble will increase yields at levels comparable to methyl bromide and the other commonly used fumigants in California. While effective against many soil-borne pests and diseases, Ennoble does not kill weeds, so they will need to be addressed with additional tools or tactics.”
The active ingredient in Ennoble is Muscodor albus, a naturally occurring endophytic fungus. The unique biofumigation properties of the Muscodor albus fungus was first discovered by retired plant pathology professor Dr. Gary Strobel of Montana State University from a sample he collected during a rainforest expedition. Dr. Strobel has spent decades leading trips to find microorganisms for agricultural and pharmaceutical uses.
Working with Dr. Strobel, MBI screened many Muscodor strains to find the best one for development as a reduced-risk biofumigant. Muscodor albus SA-13 fit the bill, and MBI began testing it in 2014. The company applied for EPA approval in 2015 and received registration in 2016. MBI expects California approval to follow soon.
Initial trials in 2014 proved that the biofumigant worked just as well as Pic-Clor as a pre-plant application to control numerous soil-borne diseases on a variety of crops, including strawberries and leafy greens. Trials on strawberries in San Luis Obispo County during 2017 showed that marketable yields from both strawberries and lettuce were as good or better compared to fields on which Pic-Clor was used. Ennoble was also the best treatment in field trials against Fusarium in celery.
MBI’s first grower demonstration was conducted with JSM Organics on strawberries, and the trial yielded significantly more berries (pounds per acre), with an estimated additional $3000 gross return per acre (wholesale). Many additional trials are being conducted in 2018 on carrot, lettuce, onion, potato, strawberry, tobacco and tomato crops.
Pic-Clor and other fumigant chemicals require large buffer zones and special permits to apply, as they are restricted use materials. Muscodor, with its non-toxic biological approach to disease and nematode control, faces no such restrictions. It is a great alternative for organic growers and offers conventional growers another option in their crop protection toolbox to rid diseases and pests from their fields.