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Bioplastic seed coating formulations combining pesticides with biocontrol isolates to control agricultural pests
Hamed Abbas: USDA ARS BCPRU; Cesare Accinelli: University of Bologna; W. Thomas Shier: University of Minnesota, College of Pharmacy
<div>Film-coating of agronomic seeds is a rapidly developing technology that generally uses petroleum-derived polymers and synthetic pesticides. However, serious consideration has recently been given to using renewable source polymers and reducing use of synthetic pesticides. We evaluated the feasibility of film-coating agronomic seeds with a starch-based bioplastic formulation, and combining conventional pesticides with beneficial microorganisms. Corn and canola seeds were film-coated with bioplastic formulations containing the insecticide imidacloprid, the fungicide metalaxyl-M, the growth promoting fungus <i>Trichoderma harzianum</i> or a non-aflatoxigenic biocontrol isolate of the fungus <i>Aspergillus flavus</i>. Bioplastic coating did not affect germination of either seed type <i>in vitro</i> or in soil. Bioplastic film-coating reduced dust-off from coated seeds by up to 95% compared to coating with a commercial polymer. This is important, particularly when neonicotinoid insecticides are included. When spores of the biocontrol fungus, <i>T. harzianum</i>, were incorporated into bioplastic coatings, growth of corn and canola seedlings was significantly stimulated (i.e., shoot and root lengths of corn seedlings were 29% and 44% longer, than in uncoated seeds, respectively; similar results were observed with canola). No growth stimulatory effects were observed with bioplastic coatings containing the biocontrol <i>A. flavus</i> isolate. Preliminary field studies indicated that coating corn seeds with bioplastic and spores of non-aflatoxigenic <i>A. flavus</i> biocontrol isolate significantly reduced aflatoxin contamination in harvested seed. More extensive studies are in progress in corn growing areas of USA and Southern Europe.</div>

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