Nutrition Technologies launched their new bioactive organic fertiliser, Diptia, specifically designed and formulated to combat fungal plant diseases, and protect soil from infection
Diptia is a patent pending Nutrition Technologies product derived from Black Soldier Fly frass that has been composted and enhanced with a microbial biocontrol agent and insect chitin. The bacteria was isolated from the BSF larvae itself, and has been shown to inhibit plant pathogens. The chitin is sourced from the exoskeleton of the mature insect pupae and is added to the product to increase the available chitin. These components work together to protect the plant root zone from phytopathogenic fungi while improving the plant's natural defences against disease.
The problem being solved
Fungal diseases of crops are increasingly prevalent in tropical agriculture and lack viable prevention and control measures. These diseases cause billions of dollars in losses every year, as well as posing a huge risk to food security. For example, in Malaysia alone Ganoderma boninense has infected over 151,208 Ha and generated losses of US$300mn per year through reduced yields and dead trees. As a soil pathogen that infects trees through the roots, the infection is often undetected for more than 10 years.
Conventional solutions and the need for innovation
Conventional disease control measures currently rely on fungicides and aggressive sanitisation such as burning the soil. For many fungal pathogens these methods are rarely effective, where they do work they are associated with damaged soils and provide the conditions for the development of fungicide-resistance strains. Diptia provides a natural and potent alternative that uses multiple modes of action to both prevent the pathogen from reaching the plant roots, and improving plant defences.
Tested in the lab and in the field
Diptia has been rigorously evaluated in laboratory conditions (in-vitro) and in greenhouse and field conditions (in-vivo). In-vitro Diptia was found to inhibit Foc TR4 by up to 90% and Ganoderma boninense by up to 82% in multiple antifungal assays which includes disk diffusion, sample-amended medium and dual layer agar methods. Results from a third-party greenhouse pot trial with Cavendish banana and Foc TR4 indicate that Diptia and a soon-to-be-released liquid foliar product resulted in a Disease Severity Index as low as 4.17% compared to 100% in the control.
The trial was conducted by associate professor Noor Baity Saidi of the Faculty of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences, Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM). She is also a research associate at the Laboratory of Sustainable Agronomy and Crop Protection, Institute of Plantation Studies, UPM. "These results demonstrate a strong disease suppression potential by the Diptia product, which could ultimately help control this economically devastating disease for Malaysian farmers," said Saidi. The trial is a significant milestone and adds to a growing portfolio of field application trials that will soon be followed by new larger field challenge trials in banana and oil palm.
"This is the first of two new plant health products we will be launching this year,” said Nick Piggott, co-CEO, Nutrition Technologies. "Understanding how insects fit into the incredibly complex natural ecosystem has enabled us to harness their power for decomposition, and create a new plant health value proposition not found anywhere else in the world. Diptia directly addresses two of the most economically dangerous plant pathogens in the world – Ganoderma in oil palms and Fusarium oxysporum in bananas. Both of these diseases have the potential to wreak havoc on the global food supply chain if left un-checked, so the release of Diptia is a massive step forward in securing the future supply of these two staple crops".
The insect sector has gathered increasing attention over the past few years, with the global insect protein market alone estimated to be worth US$343mn in 2021, and expected to grow with a CAGR of 26.49% to reach US$1.3bn by 2027. As a sustainable solution to help minimise multiple unsustainable practices, the sector as a whole has seen investments totalling nearly US$1bn.