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Expert debunks pros common misconceptions with using biological products

May 17, 2022 -  By

SePro’s Zio fungicide controls plant pathogens such as brown patch, Pythium and anthracnose on turfgrass and ornamentals. Kyle Briscoe, Ph.D., technical development manager for SePro shares with LM the common misconceptions surrounding biological products. He also explains why it’s important for LCOs to understand the benefits and how to use biologicals.

Zio Fungicide offers LCO's control of Brown Patch, Pythium and anthracnose. (Photo courtesy of SePro)

Zio Fungicide offers LCOs control of brown patch, Pythium and anthracnose. (Photo courtesy of SePro)

Landscape Management: What kind of misconceptions are out there about biologicals?

Kyle Briscoe, Ph.D.: The most common misconception is that biologicals don’t work. Generally, applicators are familiar with the performance of synthetic chemistry and use them on a curative basis only. The majority of the time this will not work with biologicals. They need to be used preventatively and applied more frequently than synthetic chemistry to provide consistent results. So yes, biologicals “don’t work” when used in a similar manner to synthetics. However, they do work when used correctly.   

LM: What should lawn care pros know/understand about using biologicals?

KB: They must understand many biological products are sensitive to the environment. You can’t take the spray and use it in an approach typical of using synthetic chemistry. The majority of biological products contain living microbes that require water and nutrients to sustain and colonize the turf. For example, extremely hot and dry periods are not a good fit for colonization after application. You must understand their relationship with the environment to apply at the appropriate time to maximize the benefits.

LM: How does Zio work … is that different than a traditional fungicide?

KB: Zio has multiple modes of action which work in tandem to control turf diseases. The most important is Zio’s colonization of turf roots. Once colonized, Zio bacteria live in a symbiotic relationship with the turf. This reduces the available root area for fungal disease colonization. Once colonized, Zio bacteria produce enzymes that degrade the cell walls of the fungal pathogens. Zio also contains fungicidal compounds similar to the synthetic fungicide fludioxonil.

LM: Why is a biological fungicide a good thing for the soil, the applicator and the client?

KB: Let’s start with the applicator and client. Using a biological fungicide such as Zio can reduce the amount of synthetic fungicides needed while maintaining the same level of disease control. Less synthetic fungicides result in less applicator and client exposure. From a plant and soil standpoint, it comes down to symbiosis between the plants and microbes in the biological fungicide. Maximizing colonization after application will maximize symbiosis with the plants and result in less fungal disease.

LM: What can lawn care pros expect in the future when it comes to biological products?

KB: Given the current light on synthetic pesticides, you should expect more EPA registered biological products that are backed with university data and recommendations. Additionally, I expect to see more programs integrating new age biologicals in a program with synthetic fungicides to reduce the amount of synthetic fungicides needed.

Christina Herrick

About the Author:

Christina Herrick is the editor of Landscape Management magazine. Known for her immersive approach to travel from coast to coast in her previous stint as senior editor of American Fruit Grower Magazine, she uses social media (Twitter/Instagram @EditorHerrick) to share her experiences on the road with her audience. Herrick has a degree in journalism from Ohio Northern University and has been in B2B publishing for seven years. She can be reached at cherrick@northcoastmedia.net.

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