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Control of Soilborne Plant Pathogens by Incorporating Fresh Organic Amendments Followed by Tarping

March 2000 , Volume 90 , Number  3
Pages  253 - 259

Wim J. Blok , Jan G. Lamers , Aad J. Termorshuizen , and Gerrit J. Bollen

First, third, and fourth authors: Laboratory of Phytopathology, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 8025, 6700 EE Wageningen, the Netherlands; second author: Applied Research for Arable Farming and Field Production of Vegetables, P.O. Box 430, 8200 AK Lelystad, the Netherlands

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Accepted for publication 9 November 1999.

A new method for the control of soilborne plant pathogens was tested for its efficacy in two field experiments during two years. Plots were amended with fresh broccoli or grass (3.4 to 4.0 kg fresh weight m-2) or left nonamended, and covered with an airtight plastic cover (0.135 mm thick) or left noncovered. In plots amended with broccoli or grass and covered with plastic sheeting, anaerobic and strongly reducing soil conditions developed quickly, as indicated by rapid depletion of oxygen and a decrease in redox potential values to as low as -200 mV. After 15 weeks, survival of Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. asparagi, Rhizoctonia solani, and Verticillium dahliae in inoculum samples buried 15 cm deep was strongly reduced in amended, covered plots in both experiments. The pathogens were not or hardly inactivated in amended, noncovered soil or nonamended, covered soil. The latter indicates that thermal inactivation due to increased soil temperatures under the plastic cover was not involved in pathogen inactivation. The results show the potential for this approach to control various soilborne pathogens and that it may serve as an alternative to chemical soil disinfestation for high-value crops under conditions where other alternatives, such as solarization or soil flooding, are not effective or not feasible.

Additional keywords: anaerobiosis, biological control, biological soil disinfestation, cultural control.

© 2000 The American Phytopathological Society