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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Alternatives to methyl bromide soil fumigation for vegetable and floriculture production Title: Non-Fumigant Weed and Disease Management Systems for Vegetable and Floriculture Production

Authors
item Rosskopf, Erin
item Burelle, Nancy
item Butler, David -

Submitted to: International Biofumigation Symposium
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: October 11, 2011
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Although many conventional vegetable and flower growers in Florida have tested or transitioned to available alternative fumigant combinations, the use of many new materials is limited by regulation, availability, and cost. Growers continue to face emerging pest problems after transitioning or have limited access to effective materials. Multiple non-fumigant approaches are currently being tested and demonstrated for various crops that continue to seek critical use exemptions for the use of methyl bromide. Among these approaches are the use of anaerobic soil disinfestation (ASD), steam, and a new material currently referred to as “SPK.” The ASD approach in Florida has utilized the agricultural waste products composted broiler litter and blackstrap molasses, combined with soil saturation and solarization to produce anaerobic conditions that provide control of soilborne pests including weeds, nematodes, and fungal plant pathogens. The new material, “SPK” can be applied through drip application systems or via standard shank fumigation equipment and produces no volatile organic compounds. This material does not provide complete weed control when used as a stand-alone treatment, but has the unique characteristic of supporting beneficial Trichoderma populations. Steam treatments are being tested for use in cut flower production where semi-permanent steam lines can deliver lethal temperatures deep into the soil profile in locations where nematode control is a severely limiting factor in crop production. This method can also be used for areas where permanent structures prevent the use of shank fumigation. All three of these methods present opportunities for the introduction of biological control agents or support the growth of beneficial organisms and have excellent potential as more sustainable options for crop production.

Technical Abstract: Although many conventional vegetable and flower growers in Florida have tested or transitioned to available alternative fumigant combinations, the use of many chemical fumigants remains limited by regulation, availability, and cost. Growers continue to face emerging pest problems after transitioning or have limited access to effective materials. Multiple non-fumigant approaches are currently being tested and demonstrated for various crops that continue to seek critical use exemptions for methyl bromide. Among these approaches are anaerobic soil disinfestation (ASD), steam, and a new material currently referred to as “SPK.” The ASD approach in Florida utilizes the agricultural waste products composted broiler litter and blackstrap molasses, combined with soil saturation and solarization to produce anaerobic conditions that provide control of soilborne pests including weeds, nematodes, and fungal plant pathogens. The new material, “SPK” can be applied through drip application systems or via standard shank fumigation equipment and produces no volatile organic compounds. This material does not provide complete weed control when used as a stand-alone treatment, but has the unique characteristic of enhancing populations of the beneficial fungus Trichoderma spp. in soil. Steam treatments are being tested for use in cut flower production where semi-permanent steam lines can deliver lethal temperatures deep into the soil profile in locations where nematode control is a severely limiting factor in crop production. This method can also be used for areas where permanent structures prevent the use of shank fumigation. All three of these methods present opportunities for the introduction of biological control agents or support the growth of beneficial organisms, and have excellent potential as more sustainable options for crop production.

Last Modified: 12/19/2014
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