Booster-Mag for safe crop protection

Biologicals April 14, 2022

Developed by Australian environmental technology company, Calix, whose technological solutions span from CO2 capture to advanced batteries, Booster-Mag recently received regulatory approval by the APVMA as a non-lethal insecticide for the suppression of two-spotted mite in tomatoes and cucurbits.

Farmers now have reassurance that Calix’s Booster-Mag bio-active magnesium hydroxide product acts as both a fertiliser and non-lethal miticide, says Robert van Merkestein – Calix’s business manager for bio-active materials.

He says Booster-Mag is the first registration of a magnesium hydroxide insecticide in the world and is the result of six years’ scientifically rigorous product and application development. It is a major milestone for Calix and its biotech business.

Mr van Merkestein said there is growing demand for safer and sustainable alternatives to conventional pesticides.

Commercial farmer trials

With the support of the Australian Processing Tomato Research Council (APTRC) and Victorian growers, the effect of Booster-Mag treatment on agronomic management was established over two consecutive seasons.

The full study and trial results were documented in a peer-reviewed paper that Calix presented at the XIII World Processing Tomato Congress.

“These trials really helped Calix come to understand the product’s value and its use – we learnt so much,” Mr van Merkestein said.

“Booster-Mag fits neatly into an integrated pest management program. Its purpose is to maintain two spotted mite numbers below economically damaging levels and provide farmers with the potential to reduce their use of conventional miticides.

“The product is capable of supressing more than two spotted mite. We have efficacy data indicating it can also provide useful suppression of a variety of sucking insect pests and remarkably, several highly destructive fungal and bacterial diseases.

“We also know the efficacy is not crop specific, so we intend to exploit this broad-spectrum suppression efficacy via label extension.

“In time, we hope Booster-Mag – which is chemically similar to milk of magnesia, will be adopted as the workhorse product in crop protection, enabling farmers to reduce the overall cost of agronomic management and to reduce farmers’ use and exposure to often toxic conventional pesticides, without compromising crop yield.

“Equally important is reducing the potential for pesticide resistance development. The fewer times a lethal insecticide is sprayed, the less opportunity there is for a target to develop resistance to that pesticide,” Mr van Merkestein said. 

Calix’s Booster-Mag should be diluted and sprayed using conventional equipment and applied weekly throughout the growing season when there is vigorous leaf growth. As the crop stabilises, application frequency can reduce to every two weeks.


The safety profile of the product is such that it has been registered with no maximum residue limit (MRL), no withholding period and with no re-entry restrictions; it can be sprayed on the day of harvest.

According to a peer-reviewed study by Francisco Sánchez-Bayo of the University of Sydney and Kris Wyckhuys of the University of Queensland, “Unless we change our way of producing food, insects as a whole will go down the path of extinction in a few decades.”

“Again, the product’s safety profile and non-lethal mode of action really does support the important natural role of beneficial insects, including pest insect predators and pollinators. It goes without saying that Booster-Mag is safe for bees,” Mr van Merkestein said.

With worldwide demand growing for non-chemical safer and sustainable alternatives to conventional pesticides, Calix is working with leading crop protection companies to establish global distribution for Booster-Mag.

Fields trials are ongoing in Europe with a particular focus on the suppression of highly destructive and economically damaging fungal diseases.

Ultimately, Calix is aiming for the product to be used in a wide range of major crops in Australia and internationally, Mr van Merkestein said.

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