Sustainable Approaches to the Management of Plant-parasitic Nematodes and Disease Complexes

Andreas Westphal


Physical, chemical, and biological factors of soil may reduce damage caused by plant-parasitic nematodes. Suppression of plant-parasitic nematodes is particularly challenging in soils in which there are short crop sequences, sequential susceptible host crops, or infestations of multiple nematode species. In southern Indiana, a watermelon production system involving rotations with soybean and corn does not suppress Meloidogyne incognita, but several aspects of such systems can be modified to reduce nematode damage in an integrated management approach. Cash crops with resistance to M. incognita can be used to reduce population densities of M. incognita. Small grains as cover crops can be replaced by cover crops with resistance to M. incognita or by crops with biofumigation potential. Mycorrhizal fungal inoculations of potting mixes during transplanting production of watermelon seedlings may improve early crop establishment. Other approaches to nematode management utilize soil suppressiveness. One-year rotations of soybean with corn neither reduced the soil-borne complex of sudden death syndrome (SDS) nor improved soybean root health over that in soybean monoculture. Reduced tillage combined with crop rotation may reduce the activity of soil-borne pathogens in some soils. For example in a long-term trial, numbers of Heterodera glycines and severity of foliar SDS symptoms were reduced under minimum tillage. Thus, sustainable management strategies require holistic approaches that consider entire production systems rather than focus on a single crop in its year of production.

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