Adding Microbes to Transplant Mix Helps Increase Crop Yields
March 28, 2000
Tomato and pepper farmers can now add microbes along with their
transplant mix to the arsenal of production practices used to reduce yield
losses caused by soilborne pathogens--including root-knot nematodes.
The microbe-amended transplant mix is being developed by
Agricultural Research Service scientists
at the U.S. Horticultural
Research Laboratory in Fort Pierce, Fla., led by Nancy K. Burelle, in
cooperation with Gustafson LLC of
Plano, Texas. The transplant mix, called BioYield 213, is amended with two
naturally occurring soil microorganisms--Paenobacillus macerans and
The mix provides the microorganisms with the environment they need
to grow on the root surface of seedlings. Once this occurs, the microbes then
stimulate vigorous growth and improve the health of the transplanted seedling
by triggering the plant's resistance mechanisms. This research is part of an
ongoing ARS effort to provide farmers with alternatives to the use of methyl
bromide, an ozone-depleting soil fumigant being phased out by 2005.
Benefits continue to be observed in seedlings out in the field.
Greenhouse producers can expect to grow seedlings in a shorter time period and
farmers can anticipate 5 to 20 percent yield increases in tomatoes, bell
peppers and even strawberries. The mix will be made commercially available to
transplant producers in the fall after grower trials are concluded.
This research is helping scientists gauge the effectiveness of
other alternatives to methyl bromide. For example, when this technology is
combined with alternative soil treatments such as Telone II and PLANTPRO 45,
levels of crop productivity approach those achieved with methyl bromide. But
results also indicate that combining the new formulations with the commonly
used practice of solarization--a process that creates an inhospitable
environment for detrimental microbes by covering the soil with plastic to heat
it, for 6 to 8 weeks in the summer--does not enhance control of root-knot
As the phasing out of methyl bromide proceeds, this technology
will provide growers with an effective, economical and sustainable alternative
component that they can use with existing methods.
ARS is the chief research agency of the
U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Scientific contact: Nancy K. Burelle, ARS U.S.
Horticultural Research Laboratory, Fort Pierce, Fla., phone (561) 462-5861, fax
(561) 462-5986, email@example.com.