Tree treatment passes lab tests

Development funding sought from public after tree disease treatment passes independent tests.

Chalara: treatment researched - image: Forestry Commission
Chalara: treatment researched - image: Forestry Commission

Natural Ecology Mitigation has announced that CuPC33, its patented treatment for tree diseases, has passed independent tests at the University of Reading's plant pathology laboratory.

The tests covered Chalara fraxinea (ash dieback) and other pathogens affecting oak, larch, horse chestnut, beech, London plane and sweet chestnut. The firm is now launching a national campaign to "Save our Trees".

The treatment uses low levels of copper ions that combine with essential nutrients to promote tree health and natural resistance while killing pathogens.

The company, which calls Defra's Chalara control plan "a monitoring programme that won't save a single tree", is appealing to the public for business development funding via crowdfunding website www.crowdcube.com in return for business equity.

Director Tim Mott said: "The absolute priority is to take every step we can to avert a coming disaster for which this country is manifestly unprepared. We need to fast-track field trial licences and regulatory approval and give tree owners the right to decide if they want to fight or surrender.

"Regulatory approval can be an expensive process but the £1.2m we are raising is a drop in the ocean compared with the costs we will face if our trees are allowed to die." He said the money is needed for helicopter spraying, business set-up costs and trials.

CuPC33 is a broad-spectrum solution that has also tested against Phytophthora ramorum, Cryphonectria parasitica, Ophiostoma novo-ulmi, Pseudomonas syringae, Massaria platani, and Venturia inaequalis. Tests are in progress against Armillaria mellea.

Mott, who has worked in developing scientific products for sale for 30 years, added: "Defra is not interested in treating ash dieback, it is just monitoring. There are many precedents for things getting through regulatory approval. Nothing is new in the product in it's own right - it's just a different formula and approach."

Defra is trialling Systhane, Alto 100SL, Proline, Indar 5EW, Consul, Amistar, Imtrex, Aviator 235 XPro, Signum, Dithane 945, Scala, Dithianon WG, garlic extract and Cuprokylt FL against ash dieback after rejecting NEM's initial untested formula.

Tree health issues Experiments aiming to find quick solutions

University of Reading Bartlett Laboratory plant physiologist Glynn Percival, who helped trial CuPC33, is looking at plant defence activators, biochar and willow mulches in experiments to find quick solutions against tree health issues.

Percival is using phosphite and salicylic acid in experiments as plant health defence activators and working on salicylic acid-rich willow mulches. His work with Biochar is being supplied by Carbon Gold. The company is mixing biochar with phosphate to try and combat disease.

"It will be great if something we add to soil will protect trees against disease," said Percival. "We would love to use a fungicide against Chalara but we would get arrested. By the time the Government has found something and registered it, it will be too late."

He added that rogue tree surgeons are telling homeowners that there is "no cure" for ash dieback. "How many thousands of ash are being taken down unnecessarily?" he asked.

"It's going to be a Dutch elm disease scenario. It spread so rapidly last year and nothing really was done so it's going to get even worse. Climatic conditions are ideal and we'll start to see it mid to late June."

Percival cited a research paper published in HortScience - 47(12):1736-1740 "Biochar amendment increases resistance to stem lesions caused by Phytophthora spp. in tree seedlings" - as background to his research.


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