Images: Test plots illustrates how Zio -- a new unique approach to biological fungicides -- features multiple modes of action golf course superintendents can use against a broad spectrum of diseases, such as brown patch, pythium, and anthracnose.
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As research and development continues to evolve fungicide technology for turfgrass applications, SePRO Corp. is preparing to release Zio, a new broad spectrum fungicide that provides control against brown patch, pythium and anthracnose.
With products like Zio, which SePRO plans to begin selling this summer, the company is poised to play a key role in evolving fungicide technology in the turf market, says Dr. Jeff Atkinson, SePRO portfolio leader for turf and landscape.
Available in a wettable powder formulation, Zio is easy to apply and doesn’t require any special storage or shipping conditions, Atkinson says. Furthermore, it mixes well with synthetic fungicides and can be easily added to existing agronomic programs.
Combinations and resistance
Providing multiple modes of action, Zio is complementary to synthetic chemistries because it can be used in combination to make those chemistries more effective, Atkinson says. As regulation pressure on synthetic fungicides may increase or pathogens may develop resistance to them, Zio will be there to mitigate those issues. At the same time, Atkinson says, “Zio is not a complete replacement for the effective tools we have today.”
When superintendents incorporate Zio into their agronomic program, they might want to consider reducing the rate of a synthetic fungicide – while staying within labeled rates –then adding in Zio to provide additional modes of action, Atkinson says. As for cultural practices, they shouldn’t have to change much at all, if anything.
Combining synthetic chemistries with Zio can help prevent diseases from developing resistance to those chemistries. “Preventing further resistance development is something that is a very, very important part of the Zio story,” he says.
Shipping, storage and ease of use
SePRO researchers have established a 24 month shelf life and continue to monitor Zio shelf stability over time., Atkinson says. “There’s not a method for us to conduct an accelerated formulation study like we might be able to conduct with a synthetic fungicide, so we have to physically put it on a shelf and observe how long it will last,” he says. “We are currently at 24 months and the test is still ongoing.”
While other biologicals in the turf market require special shipping conditions and refrigeration, Zio remains viable under reasonable storage conditions, Atkinson says. Once superintendents get their hands on the product, they can apply it with standard methods as they would a wettable powder synthetic fungicide.
Zio is mixable with other chemistries and not harmful to turf, Atkinson says. “Throughout our development process, we have attempted to identify a weakness in the operational quality of the formulation,” he says. “We were spraying it at extra low pressures with very tight mesh to attempt to clog a nozzle or anything similar that has been encountered with biologicals in the past, and we just can’t do it.”
The evolution of biologicals
When a new class of chemistry or new product comes to market in the golf industry, professionals in the industry expect that the science will continue to advance over time, Atkinson says. With biofungicides, the natural progression is that they are developed to be effective, then they are made shelf-stable, safe and easy to use. “I think, as we continue to raise the bar on biofungicides, an expectation of improvement is assumed by superintendents,” he says.
The goal with Zio, Atkinson says, is to “fit within existing agronomic programs." He and his colleagues know superintendents will continue to use synthetic fungicides, and it would be beneficial for them to incorporate Zio into their programs for exactly that reason – because it would be such an easy fit.
Zio was the highlight of SePRO’s booth at the Golf Industry Show in Orlando, Fla., in February, Atkinson says. One might assume that superintendents who attended would have been primarily interested in the efficacy of the product, but they showed great interest in Zio’s multiple modes of action, long shelf life and compatibility with synthetic fungicides. To Atkinson, this indicated a shifting mindset concerning biologicals.
“With biologicals, the number of novel modes of action out there that are undiscovered today that will be discovered and brought to market in the next five to 10 years are potentially tremendous,” he says. “Our opportunity to provide effective solutions to the turf market, prevent further development of pesticide resistance, and become better stewards of the tools we have today will continue to improve as we advance the science of biological selection and development.”
Patrick Williams is the associate editor of sister publications Greenhouse Management and Produce Grower magazines. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.