"We have tested it with the Food & Environment Research Agency against eight or nine diseases," he said. "It kills most things in the lab and has cured 95 per cent of horse chestnuts infected with bleeding canker. It's even been effective in the lab and on smaller trees against Chalara."
Box blight is another pathogen that has proven susceptible in laboratory tests, added Cocking. "Right now we are particularly interested to trial this in the field," he said. Cocking and colleagues are working towards the goal of launching a commercial service early next year. "But we lack the funding for phase two of testing and to gain approval, which would be around £100,000, and so far we are limited to testing it in the Yorkshire area," he said.
The product, which is based on the compound allicin, is manufactured by Neem Biotech of south Wales, which holds a patent on the manufacturing process and sells it into several markets.
"Allicin is one of nature's most potent anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and even anti-viral compounds, but ordinarily it breaks down rapidly," said Cocking. "We are trialling different methods, both highand low-tech, to deploy it."
Cases of Chalara have been found for the first time in established woodlands in north-west England, according to the Forestry Commission. Some 851 locations have been confirmed as having ash dieback. New sites have been found in Lancashire, Greater Manchester and West Yorkshire.
Emerald ash borer has spread to the white fringetree in the USA, said Wright State University biology professor Don Cipollini.