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Endophytes deliver yield gains in cabbage trial

News - 24.05.23

Proponents of endophytes – live forms of bacteria or fungi that are absorbed by the plant and live within it without causing harm – have long heralded their development as the next stage in active crop management.

Proving their potential, however, has proved more difficult than extolling their promise. The complex nature of their behaviour and the many forms of endosymbionts that exists coupled with a lack of knowledge about when and how to apply them for maximum effect has led to scepticism and questions as to their value.

This may be about to change, believes Don Pendergrast, Agrii head of technical for non-combinable crops.

“Depending on the form of endophyte applied and when, these live organisms have the ability to improve crop yields and quality by reducing the impact of stress and promoting better growth,” he says.

Envita Liquid, a formulated endophyte from Azotic Technologies, is one such product to gain attention.  Azotic Technologies claims it ‘improves nitrogen efficiency in crops’.

“Nutrient Use Efficiency (NUE) in all its forms is increasingly important to Agrii and our customers. We have considerable experience in identifying products and systems that improve NUE, so we were understandably keen to test Envita Liquid,” says Don Pendergrast.

At up to 300 kg N/ha, white cabbage has one of the highest nitrogen demands of any crop, so it lends itself to testing the claims of a product with the potential of improving efficiency.

“Any trial needs to produce a statistically valid result. With Envita Liquid we saw this benefit at the RB209 guideline application of 300 kg N/ha and at the reduced rate of 100 kg N/ha. This is highly encouraging and gives us the confidence to test it further in trials during 2023,” says Don Pendergrast.

The application of ammonium nitrate + Envita Liquid resulted in cabbage heads that were 13% and 6% heavier than the mean head weight at 100 kg N/ha and 300 kg N/ha respectively.

The trial, arranged as a simple test of concept involving a commercial crop of cv. Drago at a site near Spalding, Lincolnshire and a single application of Envita Liquid.

“Trials in 2023 will take a closer look at the potential of Azotic endophytes across more nitrogen rates and at multiple application rates. We will also investigate their contribution across other nitrogen-demanding crops,” says Don Pendergrast.

Table: Cabbage head weight with and without Azotic endophyte

  Mean cabbage head weight (grams)  
Nitrogen rate (kg/ha) Nitrogen ONLY Nitrogen + Envita Liquid Weight increase (grams) Weight increase (%) Statistically valid
100 1391 1575 184 13 Yes
200 1554 1566 12 1 No
300 1734 1837 103 6 Yes

Reference: Agrii, 2022. 90 heads of cabbage per treatment.

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