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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Corvallis, Oregon » Horticultural Crops Disease and Pest Management Research Unit » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #349977

Research Project: Integrated Disease Management of Exotic and Emerging Plant Diseases of Horticultural Crops

Location: Horticultural Crops Disease and Pest Management Research Unit

Title: Pacific Northwest raspberry growers’ perceptions and practices regarding soil quality and fumigation

item RUDOLPH, RACHEL - Washington State University
item DEVETTER, LISA - Washington State University
item BENEDICT, CHRIS - Washington State University
item Zasada, Inga

Submitted to: Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/19/2019
Publication Date: 7/9/2019
Citation: Rudolph, R.E., Devetter, L.W., Benedict, C., Zasada, I.A. 2019. Pacific Northwest raspberry growers’ perceptions and practices regarding soil quality and fumigation. Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems. 29(4):482-489.

Interpretive Summary: Raspberry growers have to make many decisions regarding practices they use to grow a productive crop. Some of the decisions they make are regarding the use of soil tillage and fumigation, the application of a volatile chemicals to soil to control diseases. The reasoning behind how growers make decisions and their understanding of the outcomes of these decisions is sometimes unknown. A survey was conducted of raspberry growers in western Washington in 2015 and 2016 to better understand why growers make decisions and how they perceive these decisions impact soil quality (the ability of a soil to function). It was discovered that growers have a different view point from scientists on the impact of soil tillage and fumigation on soil quality, with greater than 50% of growers indicating that they feel that these practices have a positive impact on soil quality. These findings will be used to help scientists formulate strategies to target research and outreach to meet grower needs and to provide education.

Technical Abstract: Physical, chemical, and biological properties are all components of soil quality. Soil quality has been defined as the ability of the soil to sustain plants, animals, and humans over time. Many current practices of modern agriculture can be detrimental to soil quality. Two of those practices include soil tillage and soil fumigation. Both of these practices are commonly utilized in Pacific Northwest raspberry production systems. The area between raspberry beds, known as the alleyways, is frequently tilled and kept bare, without ground cover, in order to manage weeds. Growers commonly fumigate the soil prior to planting raspberry in order to manage soilborne pathogens and plant-parasitic nematodes. A survey was conducted in western Washington in 2015 and 2016 to gauge grower perceptions, understandings, and current practices regarding soil quality. The survey results indicate that the majority of growers consider soil quality quite often in relation to the management of the raspberry field. The majority of growers in both years considered cover crops to have a positive impact on soil quality. However, growers also perceived tillage and soil fumigation either as having a positive or neutral impact on soil quality. The majority of growers responded that they were willing to adopt alleyway cover crops for a variety of reasons, including improving raspberry production, physical soil quality, and beneficial soil microorganism populations. The results of this survey indicate that there is interest in soil quality among growers, but a difference in perception between growers and researchers as to what soil quality means and how management practices impact soil quality.