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There’s a reason that so many synthetic chemicals are used in agriculture: They work really well. Biological alternatives are often harder to use or less effective for a variety of reasons, which also explain why they often have fewer side effects and are desirable.

Improving biological agents is hard but important. UNH News Service has a story about research at the school trying to improve use of beneficial microbes with a natural compound called chitosan—a byproduct of mostly shrimp shells from the seafood industry – to fight apple scab, a devastating disease of fruit trees.

Widespread adoption of biopesticides, however, has been limited due to inconsistencies in their effectiveness. “Because biopesticides are living products, their activity is affected by environment. Biopesticides often fail to grow and maintain high enough population levels in the orchard or do not produce antifungal compounds at levels necessary to suppress the disease.

Read the whole story here.

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