Pests & Diseases

Growing not Killing

Pest & Diseases

Insects, fungi, bacteria and nematodes have long been problems to farmers, who must protect their crops from pests and diseases if they are to harvest a full crop. Levity focus on helping plants help themselves, using crop science to find new ways to reduce losses from pests and diseases.

Reduced plant health from environmental stresses make plants more susceptible to pests and diseases

The status-quo of most wild plants is healthy and not infested, understanding why cropped plants are more prone to pests and disease is key.

Pest & diseases can decimate yields

Using Plant Science to Protect Crops

The Challenge

Controlling crop loss from pests and disease has been a challenge for farmers since agriculture began. Modern agriculture is heavily reliant on pesticides to  kill the pests and diseases that afflict their crops. However the pesticide industry is not able to keep up as pests become resistant and registrations are lost due to environmental concerns, leaving farmers looking for new ways to protect their crops.

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The Solution

At Levity our scientists are studying cops to find ways to make them healthy and more able to resist pest and disease attack. Our research looks at how to strengthen plants so they are harder to infect, how to make them less appealing to insects and nematodes, and how to make pesticides work better by combining them with strengthening nutrients. By applying different thinking our research is helping to reduce the need for pesticides.

Scaling The Problem of Clubroot

Amount of Brassica Species Clubroot Infects

UK Crop Value Lost due to Clubroot (£Millions)

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Global Crop Loss Due to Clubroot

What We Do

Levity use a unique combination of crop science and agronomy to find better ways to grow crops. Our scientists are researching how plant physiology can improve agricultural inputs to develop products that help farmers produce better yields.

Our Facilities

Levity have world class research facilities split between two sites at Myerscough Agricultural College  and Lancaster University. Our team of scientists enjoy unrivalled access to formulation and development labs, testing labs, controlled environment growth rooms, experimental glasshouses, field test sites and a huge array of analytical equipment.

Lab to Land

What sets Levity apart is how we approach product development. We bridge academia and industry, taking the very latest in academic research and finding ways to put it to practical use to solve problems for farmers. Our products start on a farm where our expert agronomists take time to understand the challenges faced by growers, we then go back to the lab and apply crop science in research programmes. The products that emerge are tested around the world in rigorous independent trial programmes before we are finally ready to go back to the farm with a new product.

Abiotic Stress

The weather and growing conditions are a large influence on incidence and voracity of pest and diseases, Levity’s scientists are researching why stress affects pest and disease susceptibility. The knowledge gained from this research is resulting in products that reduce the effect of stress on crops, which reduces disease incidence. Black pod on cacao, mildew on soft fruit, and blight on potatoes can all be reduced by helping protect crops from the negative health effects of stress.

Targeting the Symptoms

Levity believe that for many pests and diseases targeting the pathogen or pest is pointless, as the reproduce quickly develop resistance and are hard to eradicate. Our research starts with the plant, where we understand what influences severity of symptoms. This approach allows our research team to develop products that reduce symptoms, rather than attack pests and pathogens. Our research has been successful in reducing the effects of important diseases like clubroot in brassicas.

Plant Health

Plant health can be reduced by fertilisers, poor use of nutrients causes weak growth and poor health. Levity’s research into plant health is helping us to find better ways of feeding crops, so that we get healthy growth which is less susceptible to attack from pests and diseases. Our research into nitrogen fertilisation is helping us to develop products that feed crops healthily, reducing the need for pesticide inputs.

Protecting by Strengthening

It is very difficult for most fungi and bacteria to infect strong plant tissue, most diseases occur in areas of weak tissue. Levity are researching causes for local tissue weaknesses which allow crops to become more susceptible to infection. This research is leading to development of a new kind of targeted fertiliser that strengthens weak areas of crops and makes them harder to infect, reducing the incidence of disease and the need for pesticides.

The Clubroot Results… Byron™ Technology*

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Average Yield loss from Clubroot in Trial

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Growth Recovered Using Byron

* Results Generated in Lab Trials 2014

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Staff Thoughts

For nearly fifty years now the main thrust of pest and disease control has been to focus on how to kill the pathogen or pest. Whilst this approach has been very successful at lifting yields, it has also had negative effects on the environment, biodiversity and human health. The problems of today can’t be solved by the thinking of yesterday, it’s time to look at the problem from a fresh perspective. Understanding how to make plants less susceptible to pest and disease attack reduces the need to use pesticides in the first place. This is better for farmers, bees, and the environment.

David Marks

Managing Director, Levity Crop Science

When you look at wild plants you do not see much disease present, yet in agriculture it is hard to grow anything without using fungicides. Once we understand how the way grow crops weakens them, then we can find ways to grow stronger crops that do not need as many pesticide inputs. Placing the focus on the crop, rather than the disease is the way to achieve this. Our team are motivated to make crops as healthy as possible so that farmers can use lower inputs and get yields up.

Anna Weston

Managing Director , Levity Crop Science