Natural herbicides .. based on a common fungus

Natural herbicides .. based on a common fungus

Postby adminjt » Wed Dec 29, 2010 4:03 pm

April 18, 2010

The Vancouver Province

Bio-pesticide firm blooms

Prof, UVic launch new herbicide after years of research

By John Bermingham

A B.C. company has turned a common fungus into a natural herbicide, and expects its sales to mushroom.

Mycologic, based at the University of Victoria, promises to control growth in commercial right-of-ways using a biological herbicide as a safer alternative to chemicals.

After 15 years of research, it has recently started to manufacture Chontrol, which it describes as the only bio-pesticide currently on the market for forest vegetation.

"The idea was to take a fungus that can suppress growth in a cut-stem, as a replacement for using herbicides," says UVic biology professor and Mycologic founder Will Hintz.

"There are spores of this in the air all the time," he adds. "What we are doing is helping the process along."

Once a tree has been cut down to 15 centimetres, the bio-herbicide -- derived from a fungus called Chondrosternum purpureum -- is applied around the rim of the stump, to control re-sprouting.

"It grows into the stump and kills it, and stops it from re-sprouting," Hintz says.

Seed funding has come from B.C. Hydro and the Canadian Forest Service, along with federal research grants. The technology has been approved for use in North America. The company's clients already include B.C. power companies and senior governments.

"A lot of companies are interested in looking at small-scale trials, then going from there," Mycologic CEO Paul de la Bastide says.

The company's long gestation has made it challenging to attract investors, but being based at a university has helped it survive, he says.

"It's hard to get substantial investment with a product like this, that takes a number of years to develop," de la Bastide says.

"But as more of these [bio-herbicides] come on the market and they are demonstrated to be effective, you will see, I hope, gradually more interest and support for this type of product."

Hintz estimates the North American market for rights-of-way herbicides is about $100 million annually. He predicts the company could grow to have annual earnings of $5 million-to-$6 million within five years.

The company, co-owned by Hintz and UVic, may take on a partner to manufacture the product. Hintz says taking the company public is also an option down the line.

"It depends on how rapid the growth will be," he says.

The pace of sales growth may quicken as more governments start banning chemical herbicides, Hintz says.

Quebec already bans their use, even in remote areas. And Hintz says B.C. municipalities are looking at using non-chemical herbicides.

For the next three-to-five years, he figures, Mycologic will have a natural niche-product to sell, similarly-priced to chemical herbicides, while the chemical companies play catch-up.

"We have that much of a jump to establish ourselves in this field."

© Copyright (c) The Province ... story.html

UVic prof creates a biological herbicide for forest vegetation management ... se&id=1126

For more information visit

William Hintz (Mycologic) at 250-721-7145 or
Paul de la Bastide (Mycologic CEO) at 250-721-7130 or

Current Products

The first product formulation of this bioherbicide (Chontrol) was registered in August of 2006. The product is applied as a cut stump treatment following brushing. Two improved product formulations were determined to be more cost effective to manufacture than the original product and will provide additional benefits to the end-user in terms of ease of use. These new formulations are currently the subject of amendments to the existing registered formulation and will ultimately be registered in both Canada and the United States. Our new paste product formulation will be available for sale in 2010.

Product Label: Chontrol Peat Paste

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