Following the phase out of methyl bromide, scientists continue to explore effective, viable, and more sustainable options for vegetable crop production. Among nonchemical alternatives, anaerobic soil disinfestation (ASD) is considered to be one of the most promising methods. ASD has been determined to be effective with a range of crops and environments against several soilborne fungal and bacterial plant diseases, plant-parasitic nematodes, and weeds.
A study in the June 2016 issue of HortScience focused on the effects of ASD in an open-field, fresh-market tomato production system. Field studies were conducted to evaluate and compare ASD with chemical soil fumigation (CSF) treatments for controlling weeds and nematodes, as well as for influence on tomato fruit yield and quality. In experiments conducted in southwestern (Immokalee) and northern Florida (Citra), conventional CSF was compared with two ASD treatments, which consisted of amending the soil with 22 Mg·ha-1 of composted poultry litter and two rates of molasses (13.9 and 27.7 m3·ha-1) as a carbon source.
Analyses showed that the application of ASD did not negatively affect commercial tomato fruit quality, and that quality and the mineral content of fruit produced with ASD was comparable or higher than that of fruit produced in CSF plots.
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