Friday, November 15, 2013

Controlling Pathogens

In our quest for healthy soil, how do we control damaging pathogens that reduce crop quality and yield?

"Tink" posted this interesting study on Crop Talk which supports many of the practices we have discussed here on HyMark High Spots:

"In this study, field trials were conducted from 2010 to 2012 on four farms at four locations in Illinois to evaluate the effectiveness of four cover crops (cereal rye, brown mustard, winter canola, and winter rape) on maintaining soybean stands, decreasing the incidence and severity of soybean diseases, changing soil pathogen populations, changing soil microbial community structures, and increasing soybean yield.

Data of cover crop biomass, soybean stand, foliar and root disease levels, and yield were taken over two seasons to evaluate the effectiveness of different cover crops. Soil samples were collected after cover crops to compare pathogen population levels and the soil microbial communities among various cover crop treatments. The cover crops were successfully established at all the four experiment trial locations every year.

Cereal rye and rape had better performance than the other two cover crops, including that cereal
rye generated significantly more biomass than the other cover crops (P < 0.05), and cereal rye
and winter rape significantly improved soybean stands in plots infested with Rhizoctonia solani.
In some cases, cereal rye increased soil supressiveness to R. solani and F. virguliforme, as
measured in greenhouse bioassays with sampled field soils. Cereal rye and rape also significantly
decreased the amount of soybean cyst nematode in the soil. Cereal rye significantly improved
yield in soils where Rhizoctonia root rot was a problem.   LINK"

I have seen the benefit from radish and rye in controlling soil pathogens.  I have seen the soil's ability to feed the crop while the crop out grows any pest if the soil has balanced fertility.  That leaves weed control as my number one target as many weeds do better in healthy soil, too.

What are you doing to promote healthy soil and reduce the effect of pathogens?  What questions do you have we might discuss?


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