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Nonchemical Management of Soilborne Pests in Fresh Market Vegetable Production Systems

December 2002 , Volume 92 , Number  12
Pages  1,367 - 1,372

D. O. Chellemi

U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Horticultural Research Laboratory, 2001 South Rock Road, Fort Pierce, FL 34945

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Accepted for publication 23 July 2002.

Nonchemical methods including host resistance, organic amendments, crop rotation, soil solarization, and cultural practices have been used to control soilborne pests in fresh market vegetable production systems. Their suitability as alternatives to methyl bromide will depend on the approach to pest management used by the grower. Traditionally, methyl bromide is used in production systems that rely on the single application of a broad-spectrum biocide to disinfest soils prior to planting. Non-chemical methods are not suitable for a single tactic approach to pest management because they do not provide the same broad spectrum of activity or consistency as fumigation with methyl bromide. Nonchemical methods are compatible with an integrated pest management (IPM) approach, where multiple tactics are used to maintain damage from pests below an economic threshold while minimizing the impact to beneficial organisms. However, adoption of IPM is hindered by the paucity of economically feasible sampling programs and thresholds for soilborne pests and by a reluctance of growers to commit additional resources to the collection and management of biological information. A novel approach to the management of soilborne pests is to design the crop production system to avoid pest outbreaks. Using this “proactive” approach, a tomato production system was developed using strip-tillage into existing bahia-grass pasture. By minimizing inputs and disruption to the pasture, growers were able to reap the rotational benefits of bahiagrass without cultivating the rotational crop. While minimizing the need for interventive procedures, a proactive approach is difficult to integrate into existing crop production systems and will require several years of testing and validation.

Additional keywords: ecologically based pest management, sustainable agriculture.

The American Phytopathological Society, 2002