An evaluation of BOOSTER-Mag on processing tomato farming productivity
13th World Processing Tomato Congress
With the support of the Australian Processing Tomato Research Council (APTRC), Calix has worked with a northern Victoria processing tomato grower to quantify the effect of BOOSTER-Mag™ treatment on field processing tomato grower productivity over two consecutive seasons. BOOSTER-Mag™ is a new mineral derived, bio-active magnesium hydroxide (Mg(OH)2) product under development by Calix specifically as an agricultural foliar spray.
In the 15/16 season, initial split plot, multi-replicate field testing was undertaken across three commercial processing tomato farms. The objective of the testing was to quantify the effect of BOOSTER-Mag™ treatment on crop yield and quality.
The evaluation compared yield and yield quality from:
- Control fields; farmed conventionally using in-market and bench-mark pesticides applied according to observed pest and disease pressure.
- Trial fields; farmed as per the Control but with three BOOSTER-Mag™ treatments applied at 1.5kg/ha over a 33-day period, approximately at the mid-point of the growing season.
Whilst not statistically significant, hand-harvest data from all farms indicated additional treatment coincided with a numerical increase in the average yield of ripe unblemished fruit crop across three farms (by an average of 6%) and numerically substantial reduction (by an average of 67%) in the yield of insect damaged fruit. Soil and petiole testing results indicate these outcomes were unlikely to be due to macronutrient augmentation and suggest BOOSTER-Mag™ also provides a level of insect pest control.
In the 16/17 season, expanded scale BOOSTER-Mag™ field trials were undertaken over two farms. The objective of the work was to quantify any differences in farm productivity that BOOSTER-Mag™ may provide regarding yield, yield quality (pH and Brix) and conventional pesticide usage and cost. The evaluation compared crop grown as follows:
- Control fields (8 & 5 ha respectively); managed conventionally using in-market pesticides applied at label rates according to observed pest and disease pressure and industry thresholds.
- Trial fields (6 & 4 ha respectively); BOOSTER-Mag™ applied every two weeks as a base-treatment with additional pesticide treatments only if intervention thresholds were reached.
The comparative crop monitoring reports chemical spray frequency from grower spray records and hand-harvest data obtained are instructive.
Farm 1. The threshold for pesticide treatment was reached on four occasions in the Trial field, down from nine within the Control field, a 50% reduction in conventional pesticide treatments. Importantly, there was no statistically significant difference in relative yield and yield quality (assessed by both hand harvest and mechanical harvest) indicating that substituting conventional pesticides with BOOSTER-Mag™ did not compromise yield or yield quality.
Whilst the grower observed no obvious difference in insect and disease pressure between the Trial and Control fields, the presence of spiders and the activity of beneficial and parasitic insects in the Trial fields was noted and semi-quantitatively assessed.
It was further noted that over the season, the overall heliothis pressure was relatively low and Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus levels were very low. Similar outcomes were observed within Farm 2 with the exception that no conventional crop protection chemicals were used.
Randomised split plot, multi replicate field studies to quantify insect pest control and yield will be undertaken over the 17/18 season.
R van Merkestein1, L Mann2, A Morrison2, J Geltch3, P Geltch3, M Geltch3
1 Calix Limited, 9 Bridge Road, Pymble, NSW. 2073, www.calix.global, firstname.lastname@example.org
2 Australian Processing Tomato Research Council, PO Box 2293, Shepparton, VIC. 3632, www.aptrc.asn.au, email@example.com
3 Geltch Investments, PO Box 586, Moama NSW 2731, firstname.lastname@example.org