Location: Subtropical Plant Pathology Research
2013 Annual Report
2. Educate growers on solid-tarp solarization application and the availability of equipment to implement it for commercial evaluation.
This process requires two separate implements. The first implement applies drip irrigation tubing at 1 ft spacings and rolls (compacts) the soil surface to create a seal. The second implement applies and glues together the plastic panels. The second objective is to validate its applicability of this two-step procedure in large-scale demonstration plots implemented on commercial cut-flower farms.
A novel apparatus was designed to simultaneously apply and glue together 13 ft wide panels of soil solarization film over rolls of drip irrigation tape spaced 18 in apart without disturbing the soil profile. The apparatus was fabricated by Mirusso Enterprises (Delray Beach, FL). This new methodology significantly improves the technical and economic feasibility of solid-tarp (broadcast) applications for soil solarization by combining several application procedures on a single implement. By minimizing soil disturbance during the application procedure, the apparatus conserves soil moisture during the solarization period. Higher soil moisture during soil solarization is directly correlated to improved control of soilborne diseases and pests.
Large scale-grower demonstration trials were conducted on four commercial farms during the 2012-2013 growing season (Table 1). An organic amendment consisting of a 50:50 blend of processed crab meal and composted broiler litter was surface applied at 1050 lbs/acre on all sites immediately prior to initiating the solarization treatment. Clear, UV stable plastic with additives to trap infrared radiation in the soil and prevent condensation on the plastic was used as the soil solarization film (Grupo Olefinas, Guatamala). The plastic was applied in 13 ft wide panels and glued together to form a solid tarp. Soil temperatures were monitored at several depths. Marketable yields and pest incidences were monitored and compared to a fumigant standard at the Hobe Sound location (snapdragon production) and to a fumigant standard and an untreated check at the Plant City location (strawberry). Marketable yields and effects on plant parasitic nematodes were similar between the solarization treatment and a fumigant standard.