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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Back to the future: total system management (organic, sustainable)

Author
item Chellemi, Daniel

Submitted to: Plant Pathology International Congress
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: November 27, 2007
Publication Date: January 1, 2010
Citation: Chellemi, D.O. 2010. Back to the future: total system management (organic, sustainable). Plant Pathology International Congress. Book: Recent Developments in Management of Plant Disease.

Interpretive Summary: Many soil disinfestation programs are implemented prior to crop cultivation due to the paucity of therapeutic interventions for controlling soilborne pests. In the 1950’s a proliferation of chemical control options ushered in an era of soilborne pest control based upon a single or limited group of chemicals to control target pest organisms. Unfortunately, many chemicals also affected a broad and complex range of nontarget organisms comprising multiple trophic levels. This has necessitated their perpetual use to ensure pest control in agroecosystems where natural pest regulating mechanisms have been compromised. Presently, regulatory issues impact the availability of many chemical pesticides and urbanization of agricultural production regions restrict their use. Future trends further impacting growers include carbon sequestering and trading, demands for renewable energy sources and conservation and stewardship of natural resources. An alternative systems-based approach with multiple economic, environmental and social goals is suggested for future crop production. In this total system approach, mitigation of soilborne pest outbreaks is incorporated into the design of the crop production system. For example, rotation crops providing renewable energy and increased soil carbon sequestering will be selected to provide economic incentives for their inclusion into long-term farm management plans. Concurrently, selection will also be based upon the ability of rotation crops to minimize outbreaks of soilborne pests, thus reducing the need for interventive pest control actions. An example of a total system management approach under development for producers of field grown fresh market vegetables will be discussed.

Technical Abstract: Many soil disinfestation programs are implemented prior to crop cultivation due to the paucity of therapeutic interventions for controlling soilborne pests. In the 1950’s a proliferation of chemical control options ushered in an era of soilborne pest control based upon a single or limited group of chemicals to control target pest organisms. Unfortunately, many chemicals also affected a broad and complex range of nontarget organisms comprising multiple trophic levels. This has necessitated their perpetual use to ensure pest control in agroecosystems where natural pest regulating mechanisms have been compromised. Presently, regulatory issues impact the availability of many chemical pesticides and urbanization of agricultural production regions restrict their use. Future trends further impacting growers include carbon sequestering and trading, demands for renewable energy sources and conservation and stewardship of natural resources. An alternative systems-based approach with multiple economic, environmental and social goals is suggested for future crop production. In this total system approach, mitigation of soilborne pest outbreaks is incorporated into the design of the crop production system. For example, rotation crops providing renewable energy and increased soil carbon sequestering will be selected to provide economic incentives for their inclusion into long-term farm management plans. Concurrently, selection will also be based upon the ability of rotation crops to minimize outbreaks of soilborne pests, thus reducing the need for interventive pest control actions. An example of a total system management approach under development for producers of field grown fresh market vegetables will be discussed.

Last Modified: 7/28/2014
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