The use of adjuvants to improve uptake of phosphorous acid applied to Pinus radiata needles for control of foliar Phytophthora diseases

Publication Type:

Journal Article


New Zealand Journal of Forestry Science, Volume 44, Issue 1, p.8 (2014)




Phosphorous acid is being investigated as a fungicide for the management of a needle disease caused by Phytophthora pluvialis in Pinus radiata in New Zealand. However, little is known about the penetration characteristics of this fungicide into Pinus radiata foliage. This study was undertaken to determine: i) the penetration characteristics of a commercial phosphorous acid formulation, applied at 3 kg ha-1 and 12 kg ha-1 in 100 L water, into Pinus radiata foliage and, ii) the effect of four commercially available adjuvants on phosphorous acid uptake into Pinus radiata foliage. Efficacy of the best treatment was tested in vitro with two Phytophthora species, Phytophthora kernoviae and P. pluvialis.


Foliar uptake of orthophosphoric acid radio-labelled with [32P] was used to determine penetration characteristics of phosphorous acid as affected by the adjuvants tested. Needles collected from potted Pinus radiata plants sprayed with the best performing treatment were used in a detached needle assay, where treated needles were exposed to the zoospores of the Phytophthora species being tested.


Uptake of the phosphorous acid formulation into Pinus radiata needles applied without adjuvants was low (3.9-6.6%) at both concentrations tested. An alcohol ethoxylate adjuvant (applied at 0.2%) and two organosilicone adjuvants (applied at 0.2%) were found to significantly increase uptake of the fungicide over that applied alone or in combination with pinolene (applied at 0.35%). Highest uptake of phosphorous acid into Pinus radiata foliage (51.6%) occurred over a period of 72 hours when the phosphorous acid was applied at the equivalent of 12 kg ha-1 with an organosilicone blend adjuvant at 0.2%. A significant reduction in lesion length on infected needles was found relative to the control when the two phosphorous acid treatments were applied with 0.2% organosilicone blend adjuvant. However, there were no significant differences in lesion length between the two treatments.


These results show that an organosilicone adjuvant significantly enhances uptake of phosphorous acid into Pinus radiata needles and may increase its efficacy against Phytophthora species.