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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Fort Pierce, Florida » U.S. Horticultural Research Laboratory » Citrus and Other Subtropical Products Research » Research » Research Project #442146

Research Project: Enhancing Vegetable and Ornamental Production by Synergistically Managing Nutrients and Pests

Location: Citrus and Other Subtropical Products Research

Project Number: 6034-22000-046-000-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: May 10, 2022
End Date: May 9, 2027

1. Develop and improve non-fumigant crop production approaches to maximize efficacy and optimize crop productivity. 1a. Optimize anaerobic soil disinfestation (ASD) application for effectively managing soilborne pests and increasing plant health and yield. 1b. Combine ASD with novel crop production tools for increased value. 1c. Develop and implement adaptation of methyl bromide alternatives to soil fumigation, including non-fumigant approaches to management of nematodes and other pathogens in California carrot and strawberry production, such as anaerobic soil disinfestation. 2. Establish methods for improving soil health, plant nutrition, and pathogen management in greenhouse and other controlled environment production systems. 2a. Increase the environmental benefit of ASD through incorporation of reclaimed water for nursery production. 2b. Utilizing ASD to managing bacterial wilt in controlled environments. 2c. Ascertain methods to increase microgreen production and manage pathogens. 3. Characterize microbial communities and plant interactions that contribute to soil health and plant disease management. 3a. Identify abiotic and biotic factors that contribute to rootstock resistance breakdown. 3b. Characterize the relationship between the soil microbiome and plant health.

Soilborne plant pathogens, weeds, nematodes, and nutrient mismanagement cause considerable yield losses in vegetable and ornamental crops. In the Southeast, although methyl bromide was banned, soil fumigation remains a critical component in vegetables and fruits production. Alternative chemicals continue to be investigated, but only 1,3-dichloropropene, chloropicrin, an allyisothiocyanate biofumigant, and methyl isothiocyanate generators remain available. Dimethyl disulfide is registered, although there is currently no U.S. distributor. These materials, applied alone or in various combinations, do not provide the spectrum or level of control that resulted from the use of methyl bromide. Dependence on fumigation leaves growers vulnerable to regulatory and economic forces associated with pesticide use. Crop production systems, soil treatments, and nutrient management tools that control pests and maximize yield, while reducing negative environmental and human impacts, are the focus of the proposed research project on development and improvement of biological and cultural management strategies for pathogens and weeds impacting fruit, vegetable, and ornamental crop yields. These systems will be assessed holistically for their potential impact on the environment and product quality. An integrated approach of improving and understanding the role of the soil microbiome, soil quality, and plant nutrition in mitigating impacts of biotic and abiotic stressors will result in regenerative agricultural practices that increase crop productivity. While independent research will be conducted in laboratories, greenhouses, and in the field, ongoing and new collaborations with other ARS, university, and industry researchers will broaden the scope of the research. Continued stakeholder engagement is critical for effective technology transfer and for ensuring practical tool delivery. Mitigating the impact of soilborne pests impacting crop production while improving U.S. agroecology aligns with the USDA-ARS mission, “to sustain a competitive agricultural economy".