European Journal of Plant Pathology

, Volume 119, Issue 2, pp 217–240 | Cite as

Control of late blight in organic potato production: evaluation of copper-free preparations under field, growth chamber and laboratory conditions

  • Brigitte Dorn
  • Tomke Musa
  • Heinz Krebs
  • Padruot Men Fried
  • Hans Rudolf Forrer
Full Research Paper


In order to replace copper fungicides in organic potato production, 53 copper-free preparations (CFPs) based on natural compounds, including plant extracts and microorganisms, and five copper preparations were evaluated for their potential to control Phytophthora infestans, the pathogen that causes late blight of potatoes. In in vitro assays, 30% of the CFPs inhibited indirect germination of sporangia, 26% mycelial growth and in growth chamber experiments, 21% efficiently reduced foliar blight of tomato plants. In micro-plot field trials with applications twice a week, the copper preparations were the most effective and reduced foliar blight by 99%. Of the CFPs tested, Oekofluid P, Mycosin and other sulphuric clays, and C-2000 reduced late blight the most, from 63% to 37%. In small-plot trials in 2001, 2002 and 2004, 27 CFPs with different formulations and four copper preparations were examined. In 2004, copper preparations at full and reduced rates and sulphuric clays were applied either weekly or according to the decision support system Bio-PhytoPRE. With Bio-PhytoPRE, copper preparations reduced foliar blight of potatoes by 23–77% and increased tuber yield by 2–28%, depending on the copper rate applied and year. With CFPs, maximal efficacy was 17% and no effect on tuber yield was observed. In vitro and in vivo trials showed that the rainfastness and the persistence of CFPs was low compared with copper preparations. This indicates that the failure of CFPs under field conditions is probably due to a lack of stability under prevailing environmental conditions and not to a lack of efficacy. Until stable formulations for CFPs are developed, an optimised and restricted use of copper fungicides using a decision support system could help to control late blight in organic potato production and to reduce copper input into the environment.


Copper fungicides Decision support system Persistence Phytophthora infestans Plant extract Rainfastness 



We would like to thank A. Hecker, R. Bachmann, T. Schmid, M. Sutter and B. Vonlanthen for their technical support, F. Gut and collaborators for preparing and managing the field sites, the BBA Darmstadt and the BBA Braunschweig for delivering copper-free preparations, the companies for supplying the preparations, and S. Vogelgsang for comments on the manuscript. This research was conducted within the framework of the EU-funded project “Development of a systems approach for the management of late blight in EU organic potato production” (EU-project no.: QLK5-CT-2000-01065). Financial support was provided by the Federal Office for Professional Education and Technology OPET.


  1. Andrivon, D. (1995). Inhibition by aluminium of mycelial growth and sporangial production and germination in Phytophthora infestans. European Journal of Plant Pathology, 101, 527–533.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bassin, S., & Forrer, H. R., (2001). Suche nach Kupferalternativen gegen die Krautfäule der Karfotteln. Agrarforschung, 8, 124–129.Google Scholar
  3. Benner, J. P. (1993). Pesticidal compounds from higher plants. Pesticide Science, 39, 95–102.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Blaeser, P., Steiner, U., & Dehne, H. W. (2002). Pflanzeninhaltsstoffe mit fungizider Wirkung. Landwirtschaftliche Fakultät der Universität Bonn, Schriftenreihe des Lehr- und Forschungsschwerpunktes USL 97.Google Scholar
  5. Bowers, J. H., & Locke, J. C. (2004). Effect of formulated plant extracts and oils on population density of Phytophthora nicotianae in soil and control of Phytophthora blight in the greenhouse. Plant Disease, 88, 11–16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Cannell, R. J. P. (1993). Algae as a source of biologically active products. Pesticide Science, 39, 147–153.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Cao, K. Q., Ruckstuhl, M., & Forrer, H. R. (1997). Crucial weather conditions for Phytophthora infestans: A reliable tool for improved control of potato late blight? In Proceedings of the Workshop on the European network for development of an integrated control strategy of potato late blight. Lelystad, The Netherlands, PAV-Special Report, 1, 85–90.Google Scholar
  8. Caten, C. E., & Jinks, J. L. (1968). Spontaneous variability of single isolates of Phytophthora infestans. I. Cultural variation. Canadian Journal of Botany, 46, 329–348.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Chambers, S. M., & Scott, E. S. (1995). In vitro antagonism of Phytophthora cinnamomi and P. citricola by isolates of Trichoderma spp. and Gliocladium viride. Journal of Phytopathology, 143, 471–477.Google Scholar
  10. Daayf, F., Adam, L, & Fernando, W. G. D (2003). Comparative screening of bacteria for biological control of potato late blight (strain US-8), using in-vitro, detached-leaves, and whole-plant testing systems. Canadian Journal of Plant Pathology, 25, 276–284.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Eloff, J. N. (1998). Which extractant should be used for the screening and isolation of antimicrobial components from plants? Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 60, 1–8.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Etebarian, H. R., Scott, E. S., & Wicks, T. J. (2000). Trichoderma harzianum T39 and T. virens DAR 74290 as potential biological control agents for Phytophthora erythroseptica. European Journal of Plant Pathology, 106, 329–337.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Fernando, W. G. D., & Linderman, R. G. (1995). Inhibition of Phytophthora vignae and stem and root rot of cowpea by soil bacteria. Biological Agriculture and Horticulture, 12, 1–14.Google Scholar
  14. Fichtner, E. J., Hesterberg, D. L., & Shew, H. D. (2001). Nonphytotoxic aluminium-peat complexes suppress Phytophthora parasitica. Phytopathology, 91, 1092–1097.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Flemming, C. A., & Trevors, J. T. (1989). Copper toxicity and chemistry in the environment: A review. Water, Air, and Soil Pollution, 44, 143–158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Folman, L. B., De Klein, M. J. E. M., Postma, J., & van Veen, J. A. (2004). Production of antifungal compounds by Lysobacter enzymogenes isolate 3.1T8 under different conditions in relation to its efficacy as a biocontrol agent of Pythium aphanidermatum in cucumber. Biological Control, 31, 145–154.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Forbes, G. (2001). Spraying fungicides based on rainfall thresholds—an example of the role of plant disease simulation in potato late blight management. In Proceedings of the International workshop. Complementing resistance to late blight (Phytophthora infestans) in the Andes. 13.2.-16.2.2001. Cochabamba, Bolivia .Google Scholar
  18. Froyd, J. D. (1997). Can synthetic pesticides be replaced with biologically-based alternatives?—an industry perspective. Journal of Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology, 19, 192–195.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Halama, P., & van Haluwin, C. (2004). Antifungal activity of lichen extracts and lichenic acids. BioControl, 49, 95–107.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hemming, B. C. (1990). Bacteria as antagonists in biological control of plant pathogens. In R. R. Baker & P. E. Dunn (Eds.), New directions in biological control (pp. 223–242). Proceedings of a UCLA Colloquium 20.1.-27.1.1989. Frisco, USA.Google Scholar
  21. HERA (2004). Human and Environmental Risk Assessment on ingredients of European Household Cleaning Products; Phosphonates.Google Scholar
  22. Hofstein, R. & Chapple, A. (1999). Commercial development of biofungicides. In F. R. Hall & J. J. Menn (Eds.), Biopesticides use and delivery (pp. 77–102). New Jersey: Humana Press inc.Google Scholar
  23. Jacobson, B. J., & Backman, A. (1993). Biological and cultural plant disease controls: Alternatives and supplements to chemicals in IPM. Plant Disease, 77, 311–315.Google Scholar
  24. Johnson, D. A., Inglis, D. A. & Miller, J. S. (2004). Control of potato tuber rots caused by Oomycetes with foliar applications of phosphorous acid. Plant Disease, 88, 1153–1159.Google Scholar
  25. Krebs, H., & Forrer, H. R. (2001). Wirkung von Medizinalpflanzen im Kartoffelbau. Agrarforschung, 8, 470–475.Google Scholar
  26. Lange, L., Breinholt, J., Rasmussen, F. W., & Nielsen, R. I. (1993). Microbial fungicides-the natural choice. Pesticide Science, 39, 155–160.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Lukezic, F. L., Leath, K. T., Jones, M., & Levine, R. G. (1990). Efficiency and potential use in crop protection of the naturally occurring resident antagonists on the phylloplane. In R. R. Baker & P. E. Dunn (Eds.), New directions in biological control (pp. 793–812). Proceedings of a UCLA Colloquium 20.1.-27.1.1989. Frisco, USA.Google Scholar
  28. Lynch, J.M. (1990). Fungi as antagonists. In R. R. Baker & P. E. Dunn (Eds.), New directions in biological control (pp. 243–253). Proceedings of a UCLA Colloquium 20.1.-27.1.1989. Frisco, USA.Google Scholar
  29. Malajczuk, N. (1983). Microbial antagonism to Phytophthora. In D. C. Erwin, S. Bartnicki-Garcia, & P. H. Tsao (Eds.), Phytophthora: Its biology, taxonomy, ecology, and pathology (pp. 197–218). St. Paul: APS Press.Google Scholar
  30. Meinck, S., & Schmitt, A. (1998). Der Einfluss von alternativen Mitteln auf den Krankheitsbefall von Kartoffeln mit Phytophthora infestans und auf den Ertrag. Mitteilungen aus der Biologischen Bundesanstalt, 357, 99.Google Scholar
  31. Musa-Steenblock, T. & Forrer, H. R. (2005). Bio-PhytoPRE—ein Warn- und Prognosesystem für den ökologischen Kartoffelanbau in der Schweiz. 8. Wissenschaftstagung ökologischer Landbau, Kassel, Germany, University press, 133–136.Google Scholar
  32. Ng, K. K., & Webster, J. M. (1997). Antimycotic activity of Xenorhabdus bovienii (Enterobacteriaceae) metabolites against Phytophthora infestans on potato plants. Canadian Journal of Plant Pathology, 19, 125–132.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Nienhaus, F. (1969) Phytopathologisches Praktikum. Berlin: Paul Parley.Google Scholar
  34. Nowack, B. (2003). Environmental chemistry of phosphonates. Water Research, 37, 2533–2546.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Palmer, C. L., Horst, R. H., & Langhans, R. W. (1995). Use of bicarbonates to inhibit in vitro colony growth of Botrytis cincerea. Plant Disease, 81, 1432–1438.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Rodgers, P. B. (1993). Potential of biopesticides in agriculture. Pesticide Science, 72, 117–129.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Somers, E., & Thomas, W. D. E. (1956). Studies of spray deposits. II. The tenacity of copper fungicides on artificial and leaf surfaces. Journal of the Science of Food Agriculture, 7, 655–667.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Speiser, B., Berner, A., Häseli, A., & Tamm, L. (2000). Control of downy mildew of grapevine with potassium phosphonate: Effectivity and phosphonate residues in wine. Biological Agriculture and Horticulture, 17, 305–312.Google Scholar
  39. Spurr, H. W. Jr. (1990). The Phylloplane. In R. R. Baker & P. E. Dunn (Eds.), New directions in biological control (pp. 271–278). Proceedings of a UCLA Colloquium 20.1.-27.1.1989. Frisco, USA.Google Scholar
  40. Stephan, D., Schmitt, A., Martin, Carvalho, S., Seddon, B., & Koch, E., (2005). Evaluation of biocontrol preparations and plant extracts for the control of Phytophthora infestans on potato. European Journal of Plant Pathology, 112, 235–246.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Wicks, T. J., Magarey, P. A., Wachtel, M. F., & Frensham, A. B. (1991). Effect of postinfection application of phosphorous (phosphonic) acid on the incidence and sporulation of Plasmopara viticola on grapevine. Plant Disease, 75, 40–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© KNPV 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Brigitte Dorn
    • 1
  • Tomke Musa
    • 1
  • Heinz Krebs
    • 1
  • Padruot Men Fried
    • 1
  • Hans Rudolf Forrer
    • 1
  1. 1.Research Station Agroscope Reckenholz-TänikonZurichSwitzerland

Personalised recommendations