Fungal diseases are a major challenge in southeast US strawberry production systems. In order to combat these diseases, strawberry growers use large amounts of chemical fungicides. This heavy spraying has raised concerns about possible negative long-term health effects to the farmer, the consumer, and the environment.
This research project explored a possible alternative to chemical fungicides by using compost teas. Compost teas have had some success in controlling fungal disease in a number of studies, and the attempt of this project was to see if there were any measurable differences in the level of disease between treated and untreated plots of organic strawberries.
The experiment was laid out as a randomized complete block with three replications. There were two simultaneous trials – one with plastic mulch and one with straw mulch. Strawberries were harvested from each plot and separated into two groups – diseased (showing visible signs of infection) and undiseased (with no obvious signs of fungal infection). Both groups were weighed and the diseased weight was compared to the total weight.
The collected data showed no statistically significant difference between any of the means (treatments) at the 5 percent probability level.