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New natural seed treatment set to boost borage crops

PUBLISHED: 11:05 15 March 2019 | UPDATED: 11:05 15 March 2019

Andrew Fairs with sons, Charlie, left, and Thomas in a field of borage at his farm at Great Tey  Picture: ANDREW FAIRS

Andrew Fairs with sons, Charlie, left, and Thomas in a field of borage at his farm at Great Tey Picture: ANDREW FAIRS

Andrew Fairs

A north Essex farmer has helped develop a pioneering new microbial seed treatment for one of his high value medicinal crops.

An innovative seed treatment for borage has been developed through a collaboration between Itaka Crop Solution and Fairking Ltd  Picture: ITAKA CROP SOLUTIONAn innovative seed treatment for borage has been developed through a collaboration between Itaka Crop Solution and Fairking Ltd Picture: ITAKA CROP SOLUTION

The treatment, called KONCIA Borage, coats borage seeds with a unique formula of beneficial microorganisms, as well as bacteria to help the plant to fix nitrogen. It was launched at a Fairking Ltd growers’ meeting attended by 50 borage farmers on Tuesday, March 12.

Forward-thinking farmer Andrew Fairs, owner of Fairking Ltd, at Great Tey, Colchester, a speciality grower, worked with Itaka Crop Solution to create the product, which effectively provides a ‘starter pack’ of microorganisms that would naturally be found in undisturbed soil around the roots of established plants.

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This area, known as the rhizosphere, supports the resilience and growth of the plant, which helps it to develop quickly and vigorously, with strong roots.

It means less need for inorganic fertiliser and builds the plant’s resilience to drought and disease.

An innovative seed treatment for borage has been developed through a collaboration between Itaka Crop Solution and Fairking Ltd  Picture: ITAKA CROP SOLUTIONAn innovative seed treatment for borage has been developed through a collaboration between Itaka Crop Solution and Fairking Ltd Picture: ITAKA CROP SOLUTION

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

Andrew, who is chief executive of Fairking, said: “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.”

Itaka Crop Solution, which is based in Milan and has recently established a head office in the UK, is an international leader in the use of beneficial microorganisms and naturally-occurring products to boost crop resilience and performance. Stephen Beal, who leads its seed treatment strategy and development, said: “KONCIA Borage 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.”

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