First and third authors: Southern Crop Protection and Food Research Centre, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, 1391 Sandford Street, London, ON, Canada N5V 4T3; and second author: Department of Soil Science, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB, Canada R3T 2N2
In previous studies, liquid swine manure (LSM) was sometimes shown to reduce Verticillium wilt of potato caused by Verticillium dahliae. We also observed that microsclerotia of this fungus died within 1 day, or between 3 and 6 weeks, after addition of LSM to some acid soils and within 1 week in some alkaline soils. In this study, we demonstrated that a volatile fatty acid (VFA) mixture with an identical concentration of VFAs as that found in an effective LSM reduced germination in an acid soil (pH 5.1) to the same extent as the LSM after 1 day of exposure. Germination was reduced by 45, 75, and 90% in the 10, 20, and 40% ([wt/wt] soil moisture) treatments, respectively, with the latter being equivalent to an application of 80 hl/ha. Addition to this acid soil of 19 LSMs (30% [wt/wt] soil moisture) collected from different producers resulted in complete kill of microsclerotia with 12 manures. Effective manures had a total concentration of nonionized forms of VFAs in soil solution of 2.7 mM or higher. In some acid soils (pH 5.8), addition of LSM (40% [wt/wt] soil moisture) did not kill microsclerotia until 3 to 6 weeks later. Here, a reduction in viability of microsclerotia was attributed to the accumulation of 0.06 mM nitrous acid in the soil solution at 4 weeks. When an LSM was added (40% [wt/wt] soil moisture) to an alkaline soil (pH 7.9) where VFAs are not toxic, microsclerotia germination was reduced by 80% after 1 week. Here the pH increased to 8.9 and the concentration of ammonia reached 30 mM in the soil solution. An ammonium chloride solution having an equivalent concentration of ammonium as the manure was shown to have the same spectrum of toxicity as the manure in assays ranging from pH 7 to 9, both in solutions and above the solutions. At pH 9, the concentration of ammonia reached 18 mM and 100% mortality of microsclerotia occurred. Thus, in acid soils, LSM can kill microsclerotia of V. dahliae by VFA and/or nitrous acid toxicity and in alkaline soils by ammonia toxicity. In order to take advantage of these mechanisms for disease reduction, the manure chemical composition, rate of addition, and soil characteristics need to be determined for each instance of use.