Wheat straw vinegar: A more cost-effective solution than chemical fungicides for sustainable wheat plant protection
© 2018 Fusarium head blight (FHB), caused by the fungal pathogen Fusarium graminearum, is a destructive and widespread wheat disease. Chemical fungicides are becoming less effective at reducing the disease severity of FHB, and there is a need to find a more effective, low-cost natural product. A by-product of the pyrolysis of wheat straw is a condensate known as wheat straw vinegar, which was hypothesized to be an effective F. graminearum inhibitor in wheat. The organic and mineral compositions of wheat straw vinegar were analyzed. The results of GC–MS indicated that the major organic compounds in wheat straw vinegar are phenolics and acetic acid. The main inorganic elements in the liquid were K, Ca, S and Mg. A bio-test of wheat straw vinegar showed strong antifungal activity on F. graminearum growth and production of deoxynivalenol (DON) with an EC50 (concentration for 50% of maximal effect) value of 3.1 μl ml−1. Field tests showed that the application of wheat straw vinegar diluted 200-fold significantly decreased the wheat FHB infection rate and DON content by 66% and 69%, respectively. The control efficacy of wheat straw vinegar at a dilution of 200-fold was similar to that of typical chemical fungicide applications. The use of wheat straw vinegar may increase farmers' income by reducing the net fungicide costs. Therefore, wheat straw vinegar has high potential as a natural fungicide for the control of FHB and can reduce the dependence on synthetic fungicides.