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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Alternatives to Methyl Bromide for Vegetable and Floriculture Production

Location: Subtropical Plant Pathology Research

Title: Anaerobic Soil Disinfestation (ASD) Combined with Soil Solarization as a Methyl Bromide Alternative: Vegetable Crop Performance and Soil Nutrient Dynamics

item Butler, David
item Burelle, Nancy
item Albano, Joseph
item Mccollum, Thomas
item Muramoto, Joji
item Shennan, Carol
item Rosskopf, Erin

Submitted to: Plant and Soil
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/3/2014
Publication Date: 4/17/2014
Citation: Butler, D.M., Burelle, N.K., Albano, J.P., McCollum, T.G., Muramoto, J., Shennan, C., Rosskopf, E.N. 2014. Anaerobic Soil Disinfestation (ASD) Combined with Soil Solarization as a Methyl Bromide Alternative: Vegetable Crop Performance and Soil Nutrient Dynamics. Plant and Soil. 378:365-381.

Interpretive Summary: Anaerobic soil disinfestation (ASD) is a method for amending soil with a readily-available carbon source, covering the soil with a clear polyethylene film (soil solarization), and saturating the soil to create an anaerobic soil condition for a controlled period of time. This method has been proven to be efficacious for the management of various soilborne pathogens, weeds, and nematodes. A two-year field study was conducted in Florida to determine if this method was effective as a potential alternative to fumigation of soil with methyl bromide. ASD using molasses as the carbon source was found to produce bell pepper and eggplant yields that were equivalent to methyl bromide. Effectively managing plant nutrition at the time of flowering and fruit set is critical for obtaining favorable yields.

Technical Abstract: Soil treatment by anaerobic soil disinfestation (ASD) combined with soil solarization can effectively control soilborne plant pathogens and plant-parasitic nematodes in specialty crop production systems. At the same time, research is limited on the impact of soil treatment by ASD + solarization on crop performance, soil fertility, and plant nutrition. The objectives of this study were to evaluate the response of 1) soil nutrients and 2) vegetable crop performance to ASD + solarization with differing levels of irrigation, molasses amendment, and partially-composted poultry litter amendment (CPL) compared to untreated and methyl bromide (MeBr) + chloropicrin-fumigated controls. A two-year field study was established in August 2008 at the USDA-ARS U.S. Horticultural Research Farm in Fort Pierce, Florida, USA to determine the effectiveness of anaerobic soil disinfestation as an alternative to MeBr pre-plant soil fumigation for a bell pepper-eggplant double crop production system. A complete factorial combination of treatments in a split-split plot was established to evaluate three levels of initial irrigation [10, 5, or 0 cm], two levels of partially-composted poultry litter (amended or unamended), and two levels of molasses (amended or unamended) in combination with solarization. Untreated and MeBr controls were established for comparison to ASD treatments. Results suggest that ASD treatment using molasses as carbon source paired with solarization can be an effective strategy to maintain crop yields in the absence of soil fumigants. For both bell pepper and eggplant crops, ASD treatments with molasses as a carbon source had equivalent or greater marketable yields than the MeBr control. The application of organic amendments in ASD treatment (molasses or molasses + CPL) caused differences in soil nutrients and plant nutrition that must be effectively managed in order to implement ASD on a commercial scale.

Last Modified: 09/19/2017
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