ENHANCING SUSTAINABILITY OF FOOD PRODUCTION SYSTEMS IN THE NORTHEAST
Location: New England Plant, Soil and Water Research Laboratory
Title: Use of Brassica and other disease-suppressive rotation crops in potato production systems
Submitted to: Northeast Potato Technology Forum
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: March 1, 2011
Publication Date: March 16, 2011
Citation: Larkin, R.P., Olanya, O.M., Halloran, J.M., He, Z. 2011. Use of Brassica and other disease-suppressive rotation crops in potato production systems [abstract]. Northeast Potato Technology Forum. p. 30.
Soilborne diseases of potato can be persistent, difficult-to-control problems in potato production. The use of disease-suppressive crops, as rotation, cover, or green manure crops, can potentially reduce multiple soilborne potato diseases. Brassica spp. and related plants suppress diseases through multiple mechanisms. The roles and uses of these and other potential disease-suppressive rotation crops in potato production systems have been evaluated in various field trials over the last ten years in Maine. An overview summarizing all field trials involving Brassica rotation crops indicated that, although results varied by field and year, positive effects on yield and disease reduction have been observed in the majority of trials, with yield improvements up to 22% and disease reductions ranging from 20 to 90% for multiple pathogens. In a continuing trial evaluating the effects of different crop management systems, the disease-suppressive (DS) system, utilizing multiple crops with disease-suppressive potential, has reduced disease and increased yield relative to standard rotations over five years of data collection. Initial results from an additional trial evaluating how to best use these crops in potato rotations (as cover crop, green manure, or harvested crop) indicate that a mustard blend resulted in the highest yield and lowest disease levels, and that crops grown as a green manure provided the greatest yield benefit and lower tuber diseases overall. This research demonstrated that effective rotations and use of disease-suppressive rotation crops can substantially reduce soilborne disease problems, but cannot completely control them. Good rotation strategies should be used in conjunction with other crop and soil management approaches to achieve more sustainable crop production.