While adding a little salt to enhance the flavour of mushrooms is common in cooking, mushroom growers are now able to add salt to their crops to help with the control of a range of fungal diseases.
The European Commission (EC) has approved the use of salt (sodium chloride) under its basic substance programme. It joins a list of 16 other everyday substances – including vinegar, sucrose, sunflower oil and whey – that arable and horticultural growers are now authorised to use to control a variety of pests, weeds and diseases.
Other unconventional plant protection products currently being reviewed for basic substance approval include soap and skimmed milk.
AHDB Horticulture has worked closely with the EC to secure the approval for salt and has previously helped generate the approval for sodium bicarbonate for the control of liverwort in ornamental plants.
Bolette Palle Neve, crop protection scientist at AHDB, said: “While the use of these familiar substances for protecting crops may sound unusual, with fewer crop protection product approvals being granted and many active substances being withdrawn, growers need as many options available to them as possible. “We’ll continue to work with the EC to secure approval for new basic substances that we think will have significant benefit to growers.”
Jon Knight, head of crop health and protection at AHDB, said: “We’re keen for growers and researchers to get in touch if they believe that there are other everyday products that could be useful for crop protection and would like us to investigate securing authorisation.
“Many of these approvals have happened because of grower-led trials and anecdotal feedback.”
Further information about basic substances can be found at horticulture.ahdb.org.uk or visit the EU Pesticides database.