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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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Research Project: ADOPTION OF ‘SOLID-TARP’ SOIL SOLARIZATION BY CUT-FLOWER GROWERS

Location: Subtropical Plant Pathology Research

2013 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416):
1. Custom fabricate solid-tarp application implements suitable for cut-flower production systems.

2. Educate growers on solid-tarp solarization application and the availability of equipment to implement it for commercial evaluation.


1b.Approach (from AD-416):
In the South Atlantic Area, solid-tarp soil solarization has demonstrated potential as an alternative to solid-tarp fumigation for cut-flower growers, primarily to extend the required time intervals between fumigant applications from annually to once every 3 years. Traditionally, solid-tarp applications (laying and gluing plastic panels in the field to create a solid-tarp) are performed by commercial fumigation services in conjunction with the sale and application of chemical fumigants. The goal of this project is to facilitate the availability of ‘solid-tarp’ soil solarization application methods for cut-flower growers currently dependent upon solid-tarp soil fumigation methods.

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.


3.Progress Report:

This research related to inhouse objective: The overall goals of the program will be to establish and implement an areawide pest management research and action program for methyl bromide (MB) alternatives.

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.


Last Modified: 8/22/2014
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