Effect of Tillage and Crop Residue Management on Nematode Densities on Corn

R. McSorley, R. N. Gallaher

Abstract


Effects of winter cover crop management on nematode densities associated with a subsequent corn (Zea mays) crop were examined in five sites in north Florida. Two sites had received winter cover crops of lupine (Lupinus angustifolius), and one site each had rye (Secale cereale), hairy vetch (Vicia villosa), and crimson clover (Trifolium incarnatum). In each site, five different management regimes were compared: 1) conventional tillage after the cover crop was removed for forage; 2) conventional tillage with the cover crop retained as green manure; 3) no-till with the cover crop mowed and used as a mulch; 4) no-till with the cover crop removed as forage; and 5) fallow. Sites were sampled at corn planting and harvest for estimates of initial (Pi) and final (Pf) nematode population densities, respectively. Whether the cover crop was removed as forage or retained as green manure or mulch had no effect (P 0.10) on population densities of any plant-parasitic nematode before or after corn at any site. Differences between conventional-till and no-till treatments were significant (P = 0.10) only in one experiment for Paratrichodorus minor and two experiments for Pratylenchus spp. Compared with other treatments, fallow reduced (P = 0.05) Pi of P. minor in two of three cases and Pf of Meloidogyne incognita in one of five sites, but enhanced soil Pf of Pratylenchus spp. in three of five sites. Tillage practices and management of cover crop residues had little consistent effect on nematodes, and these practices should be considered based on agronomic benefits rather than for nematode management. Key words: corn, Criconemella spp., cover crop, cropping system, green manure, Meloidogyne incognita, nematode, organic amendment, Paratrichodorus minor, Pratylenchus spp., sustainable agriculture, tillage, Zea mays.

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