Sustainable alternative to methyl bromide for tomato production
Anaerobic soil disinfestation determined effective for controlling weeds, nematodes in Florida fresh-market tomato
- August 25, 2016
- American Society for Horticultural Science
- Field studies in two Florida locations evaluated and compared anaerobic soil disinfestations (ASD) and chemical soil fumigation (CSF) performance on weed and nematodes control, and on fruit yield and quality of fresh-market tomato. Results indicated that ASD (applied using a mixture of composted poultry litter and molasses as carbon source) may be a potentially sustainable alternative to conventional CSF for controlling plant-parasitic nematodes and weeds without causing negative effects on fruit yield and quality.
Following the phase out of methyl bromide, scientists continue to explore effective, viable, and more sustainable options for vegetable crop production. Among nonchemical alternatives, anaerobic soil disinfestation (ASD) is considered to be one of the most promising methods. ASD has been determined to be effective with a range of crops and environments against several soilborne fungal and bacterial plant diseases, plant-parasitic nematodes, and weeds.
A study in the June 2016 issue of HortScience focused on the effects of ASD in an open-field, fresh-market tomato production system. Field studies were conducted to evaluate and compare ASD with chemical soil fumigation (CSF) treatments for controlling weeds and nematodes, as well as for influence on tomato fruit yield and quality. In experiments conducted in southwestern (Immokalee) and northern Florida (Citra), conventional CSF was compared with two ASD treatments, which consisted of amending the soil with 22 Mg·ha-1 of composted poultry litter and two rates of molasses (13.9 and 27.7 m3·ha-1) as a carbon source.
Analyses showed that the application of ASD did not negatively affect commercial tomato fruit quality, and that quality and the mineral content of fruit produced with ASD was comparable or higher than that of fruit produced in CSF plots.
In both locations, the application of ASD provided a level of root-knot nematode control equivalent to, or more effective, than the CSF. Additional results showed that, in Immokalee, the CSF provided the most significant weed control, “but ASD treatments also suppressed weeds enough to prevent an impact on yield,” the authors said. In Citra, all treatments, including the CSF, provided poor weed control relative to the Immokalee site.
“Overall, the results of the two locations demonstrate that the ASD technique may be a valid and sustainable alternative to the conventional CSF, and could be transferred at commercial level,” the authors said. “Molasses rates showed similar performance in terms of root-knot nematode and weed control, yield, and fruit quality; therefore, the lower molasses rate could be suggested to reduce the cost of the ASD treatment.”
On-going research is focused on substitutions for composted broiler litter and minimizing nutrient inputs in an ASD system.
- Francesco Di Gioia et al. The Effects of Anaerobic Soil Disinfestation on Weed and Nematode Control, Fruit Yield, and Quality of Florida Fresh-market Tomato. HortScience, June 2016
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