A new study out in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry suggests a natural remedy to the negative effects of pesticides to plants. A group of plant hormones called brassinosteroids have been shown to reduce the toxicity of crops, if they’re doused with it before pesticide application.
Jing Quan Yu of Zhejiang University and his colleagues treated cucumber plants with one type of brassinosteroid, then sprayed them with various pesticides. The hormone application sped up the plants’ metabolism, causing them to rid themselves of the pesticides’ toxins more quickly. One insecticide was found to reduce the plants’ photosynthetic rate, so application of this hormone could contribute to faster growth than yielded by the application of pesticides alone.
And, the hormone appears to be environmentally friendly. As the authors write:
The results suggest that BRs may be promising, environmentally friendly, natural substances suitable for wide application to reduce the risks of human and environment exposure to pesticides.
Xia, X., Zhang, Y., Wu, J., Wang, J., Zhou, Y., Shi, K., Yu, Y., & Yu, J. (2009). Brassinosteroids Promote Metabolism of Pesticides in Cucumber Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 57 (18), 8406-8413 DOI: 10.1021/jf901915a