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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Fort Pierce, Florida » U.S. Horticultural Research Laboratory » Citrus and Other Subtropical Products Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #361506

Research Project: Integrated Strategies for Managing Pests and Nutrients in Vegetable and Ornamental Production Systems

Location: Citrus and Other Subtropical Products Research

Title: Economic analysis of anaerobic soil disinfestation for open-field fresh-market tomato production in Southwest and North Florida

item SHI, LIJIA - University Of Florida
item WANG, JINGHUI - University Of Florida
item GAO, ZHIFENG - University Of Florida
item ZHAO, XIN - University Of Florida
item DIGIOIA, FRANCESCO - Pennsylvania State University
item GUO, HAICHAO - Noble Research Institute
item Hong, Jason
item OZORES, HAMPTON - University Of Florida
item Rosskopf, Erin

Submitted to: HortTechnology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/10/2019
Publication Date: 10/28/2019
Citation: Shi, L., Wang, J., Gao, Z., Zhao, X., Digioia, F., Guo, H., Hong, J.C., Ozores, H., Rosskopf, E.N. 2019. Economic analysis of anaerobic soil disinfestation for open-field fresh-market tomato production in Southwest and North Florida. HortTechnology.

Interpretive Summary: The loss of the soil fumigant methyl bromide has led to research into non-fumigant soil disinfestation methods including amending soil with organic waste materials to develop disease-suppressive soils. Anaerobic soil disinfestation (ASD) is a method of combining the application of carbon with soil saturation which leads to the development of temporary anaerobic conditions in the soil. This method reduces the survival of many soilborne pests including fungi, nematodes, and weeds. While the efficacy of the method has been proven, the application by growers may be limited due to the lack of information on the economics of the method in comparison to standard chemical soil disinfestation practices. Two field trials were conducted from which the cost of land preparation from two ASD treatments were compared to soil fumigation. Yield data and pricing parameters were used to determine returns and costs for each treatment. ASD required higher labor costs due to the application of organic amendments, but the increased yields resulted in greater net return from most ASD treatments when compared to that achieved with fumigation.

Technical Abstract: With the phase-out of methyl bromide due to its impact on ozone depletion, research has focused on developing alternative chemical and biologically-based soil disinfestation methods. Anaerobic soil disinfestation (ASD) was developed to control plant parasitic nematodes, weeds, and soil-borne pathogens. However, whether farmers will adopt ASD methods on a large scale is unknown. This study evaluates the economic viability of using ASD in open-field fresh-market tomato production, drawing on data from field experiments conducted in 2015 in Immokalee and Citra, Florida. The experiment includes three treatments: chemical soil fumigation (CSF), ASD1 [the standard ASD treatment applied using 1,482 gal/acre (13.9 m3 ha-1) of molasses and 9 t/acre (22 Mg ha-1) of CPL], and ASD0.5 [applied using 741 gal/acre (6.9 m3 ha-1) of molasses and 4.5 t/acre (11 Mg ha-1) of CPL]. Results from the economic analysis show that ASD treatments require higher labor costs than chemical soil fumigation (CSF) with regard to land preparation and treatment application. However, yields from ASD treatments are higher than those resulting from CSF, and the improvement in yield may be enough to offset the increased labor costs. Relative to CSF, ASD0.5 and ASD1 achieved additional net returns of $707.92 per acre and $2982.17 per acre, respectively, in Immokalee. However, due to unexpected conditions such as weather, the net return of ASD1 was lower than that of CSF in Citra. Breakeven analysis indicates that ASD treatments would remain favorable even with an increase in the molasses price. However, when the tomato price is low, ASD could potentially lose its advantages compared with CSF.