Effects of the Integration of Sunn Hemp and Soil Solarization on Plant-Parasitic and Free-Living Nematodes

Sharadchandra P. Marahatta, Koon-Hui Wang, Brent S. Sipes, Cerruti R. R. Hooks


Sunn hemp (SH), Crotolaria juncea, is known to suppress Rotylenchulus reniformis and weeds while enhancing free-living nematodes involved in nutrient cycling. Field trials were conducted in 2009 (Trial I) and 2010 (Trial II) to examine if SH cover cropping could suppress R. reniformis and weeds while enhancing free-living nematodes if integrated with soil solarization (SOL). Cover cropping of SH, soil solarization, and SH followed by SOL (SHSOL) were compared to weedy fallow control (C). Rotylenchulus reniformis population was suppressed by SHSOL at the end of cover cropping or solarization period (Pi) in Trial I, but not in Trial II. However, SOL and SHSOL did not suppress R. reniformis compared to SH in either trial. SH enhanced abundance of bacterivores and suppressed the % herbivores only at Pi in Trial II. At termination of the experiment, SH resulted in a higher enrichment index indicating greater soil nutrient availability, and a higher structure index indicating a less disturbed nematode community compared to C. SOL suppressed bacterivores and fungivores only in Trial II but not in Trial I. On the other hand, SHSOL enhanced bacterivores and fungivores only at Pi in Trial I. Weeds were suppressed by SH, SOL and SHSOL throughout the experiment. SHSOL suppressed R. reniformis and enhanced free-living nematodes better than SOL, and suppressed weeds better than SH.

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