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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Corvallis, Oregon » Horticultural Crops Disease and Pest Management Research Unit » Research » Research Project #443613

Research Project: Pulse Electricity: A Non-Chemical Approach for the Management of Nematodes, Pathogens, and Weeds in Nurseries

Location: Horticultural Crops Disease and Pest Management Research Unit

Project Number: 2072-22000-046-033-R
Project Type: Reimbursable Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Oct 1, 2022
End Date: Aug 31, 2024

The overarching goal is to evaluate non-fumigant strategies for soilborne pest and pathogen management in ornamental nurseries. Specific objectives are: 1. Compare the effectiveness of pulse electricity and Ohmic heating in controlling selected nematodes, fungi, weed species. Energy requirements will be compared using both methods to optimize field study design. 2. Conduct field studies to compare the effect of pulse electricity applied at different soil depths and energy levels as pulse and heating on soilborne pathogen and pest suppression, impact on crop quality and labor demands. 3. Compare inputs and profitability of electric energy to methyl bromide and other soil fumigation in the ornamental tree nursery. 4. Develop applied recommendations on using this novel technology in soil disinfestation and inform stakeholders on the pros and cons of electric energy using face-to-face events and webinars.

1. In pot experiments nematodes, fungal pathogens, and weeds that impact ornamental tree nursery production will be treated with pulse electricity and then viability determined. These experiments will direct treatments applied in the field. 2. Field experiments will be conducted in two commercial tree seedling nurseries located in the Willamette Valley region of Oregon. The cooperating growers will prepare the site following their standard practices. This study will compare efficacy of the most effective pulse and heating treatments based on objective 1. As the amount of energy required is related to the volume of soil treated, we will compare efficacy of these treatments at 5 and 10 cm of depth. A nontreated check and a standard treatment will be included as reference. Red maple tree seedlings will be planted by the collaborating grower. Nematode and fungal survival will be determined through extraction and quantification. Additionally, fungal survival and diversity will be assessed through microbiome amplicon sequencing. Weed survival will be determined by counting and also assessing the time for hand weeding. Tree health will be monitored over the course of the experiment. 3. An economic analysis will be conducted based upon data collected from the field trial to determine cost of pulse electricity in comparison to fumigation. 4. Results will be extended to stakeholder through in person meetings, at conferences, and extension publications.