World’s first microbial seed treatment developed for borage

Fairking Ltd and Itaka Crop Solution partner on biological programme for high value medicinal crop

An innovative seed treatment of beneficial microorganisms is being applied to borage for the first time, following collaboration between Itaka Crop Solution, leaders in the use of biorationals, and Fairking Ltd, a speciality grower and producer of natural plant oils.

Koncia Borage was launched (12 March 2019) at a Fairking Ltd growers meeting.

Koncia Borage provides a ‘starter pack’ of microorganisms that would naturally be found in undisturbed soil around the roots of established plants. This area, known as the Rhizosphere, supports the resilience and growth of the plant by creating a similar environment from the outset. KONCIA Borage provides bio-stimulation, supporting rapid emergence, strong root development and vigorous development of the plant.

Borage (Borago officinalis) is a valuable herb that provides an excellent plant source of gamma linolenic acid (GLA). This valuable fatty acid is an anti-inflammatory and an important medication for conditions such as arthritis and nerve pain caused by diabetes, and also for skin problems such as eczema and psoriasis.

Working with Dutch company De Wit Speciality Oils, Fairking Ltd is one of the biggest producers of borage seeds in the world and has specialist knowledge of its cultivation. It works closely with its growers to ensure a premium product. To support this, it has partnered with Itaka to develop the first microbial seed enhancement for borage.

Koncia borage is approved by the Soil Association for use in organic farming. The product is completely natural, and safe for both the environment and the operators.

Itaka Crop Solution is an international leader in the use of beneficial microorganisms and naturally occurring products to boost crop resilience and performance. It has recently established its head office in the UK and KONCIA Borage is the first in a range of seed treatments under development.

Stephen Beal, leading Seed Treatment Strategy and Development at Itaka, comments:

“KonciaBorage is a revolutionary seed treatment containing beneficial organisms which we believe will provide the very best start for the borage crop. A unique combination of microbes will enhance the seed in all conditions producing a more vigorous and healthy crop. By partnering with Fairking Ltd we have created a programme of treatments specifically for this high value crop, boosting its performance.”

Andrew Fairs, CEO of Fairking Ltd, explains: “Borage is the richest plant source of GLA. It is therefore a high value crop. This novel seed treatment will allow rapid establishment of a crop, enhancing its resilience to adverse environmental conditions.”

The rhizosphere is a region of the soil directly around the roots; here sugars and proteins from the roots provide food for beneficial microorganisms including bacteria and fungi, which in return make nutrients from the soil more available to the plant.

An important element of building plant resilience is the creation of a strong root system, it has been found that microorganisms occurring naturally in undisturbed soil stimulate root development. KONCIA Borage offers the same benefit to plants grown in cultivated soil, where the population of microorganisms have been depleted.

Koncia  is a novel treatment that coats the seed with a unique formula of beneficial microorganisms including mycorrhizae (glomus intraradices, glomus), and bacteria such as Bacillus sp. and Azotobacter sp. responsible for nitrogen fixation. With a shelf life of many months, it allows sowing to be performed under optimum conditions.

Itaka recommends a programme for borage programme which includes stimulating the presence of microorganisms during entire plant cycle using other solutions from its range. By adhering to this programme the presence of beneficial microorganisms are increased around the roots and leaves, enhancing plant vigour and resilience.

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About The Author

John Swire - Deputy editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer as well as responsibility for the Agronomist and Arable Farmer and Farm Business websites. After 17 years milking cows on the family farm John started writing about agriculture in 1998 and has since written for a variety of publications and has developed a wide circle of contacts within the industry. When not working John is a season ticket holder at Stoke City and also of late has become a fitness freak, listing cycling, swimming and walking as his exercises of choice.