Many trees contain powerful pharmaceutical compounds which have the potential to manage a range of plant diseases. Willow has relatively high levels of salicylic acid, the active ingredient in ‘Aspirin’. Previous research has indicated that application of single species willow woodchip can help manage scab in apple and other top fruit crops.
A new field lab aims to validate these findings on commercial orchards in the UK, using a number of different willow species, and carry out a cost benefit analysis of this approach to scab management.
If the results are promising, the project will be expanded in subsequent years to look at whether and to what extent the addition of biochar enhances the efficacy, and whether the timing of application of the mulch has any effect.
There is already a small group of growers interested but they're looking for more members. Growers will be asked to:
- Choose species of willow they want to work with and source the wood chip
- Apply the mulch (once) at a time of your choosing to 5 trees and identity another 5 as controls
- Assess the scab incidence on each of the 10 trees once in mid summer (support and training will be provided by Bartlett Tree Experts)
The total time input will be no more than 1.5 days per grower and you will need to cover the cost of sourcing the woodchip if it’s not available on farm. There will be an initial meeting early in the new year to make more detailed plans.
If you would like to participate in the project, or would like more information please contact the group coordinator, Tony Little (email@example.com pr 07969 541133)