Investigations were conducted to determine whether the effects of tillage practices on the prevalence of brown stem rot of soybean (caused by Phialophora gregata), Heterodera glycines, and Phytophthora sojae were confounded by soil texture in samples collected in the fall of 1995 and 1996. Soil and soybean stem samples, along with tillage information, were collected from 1,462 randomly selected fields in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, and Ohio in collaboration with the National Agricultural Statistics Service. The incidence of brown stem rot was determined from 20 soybean stem pieces collected from each field in a zigzag pattern. The detection frequency of P. sojae (expressed as percent leaf disks colonized) and population densities of H. glycines were determined from soil cores also collected in a zigzag pattern. The soil samples were grouped into various textural classes, and the effect of soil texture and tillage relations on the activities of each pathogen were determined. Both tillage and soil texture affected the incidence of brown stem rot; however, there was no interaction between tillage and soil texture. Conservation tillage had a greater (P < 0.05) incidence of brown stem rot in clay loam and silty clay loam than did conventional tillage. The detection frequency of P. sojae was not affected by tillage, but a tillage × texture interaction (P = 0.013) indicated that the effect of tillage depended on soil texture. There was a greater (P < 0.05) detection frequency of P. sojae in conservation tillage than in conventional tillage in silt loam and loam soils. However, in sandy loam, the detection frequency of P. sojae was greater (P = 0.0099) in conventional tillage than in conservation tillage. Population densities of H. glycines were significantly affected by both tillage and soil texture, but overall, there was no tillage × texture interaction. There was an inverse relationship between population densities of H. glycines and percent clay (r = -0.81, P = 0.01) in no-till fields, but little or no change in nematode densities was observed with increasing clay content in tilled fields. Population densities of H. glycines were less (P < 0.05) in no-till fields than in tilled fields in silty clay loam and clay soils. There was no difference in H. glycines densities between the tillage categories in soils sandier than silty clay loam or clay. The findings emphasize the need for cautious interpretation of the effects of tillage practices on diseases and pathogens in the absence of information on soil texture.
soybean cyst nematode.