Biofumigation as an IPM Strategy

2009 Annual Report for LNC06-270

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2006: $116,972.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2010
Region: North Central
State: Wisconsin
Project Coordinator:
Dr. Ann MacGuidwin
University of Wisconsin

Biofumigation as an IPM Strategy


Biofumigation, the managed release of degradation products from plant residues, is an alternative to soil fumigation. We assisted potato farmers in evaluating traditional biofumigant crops like rapeseed and mustards, and others including forage pearl millet in 2008 and provided followup data for them in 2009. We conducted research on pearl millet, a crop that showed efficacy in reducing soil pathogens responsible for the potato early dying disease. We provided information to farmers and crop advisors about soil biology to increase their understanding about soil pathogens and biologically-based pest management.

Objectives/Performance Targets

1. Build a knowledge base among growers and agribusiness representatives about ecosystem services available in the soil and the organisms involved
2. Increase the expertise of farmers about cover crop management and the practice of biofumigation.
3. Increase awareness of farmers, crop consultants, county agents, and industry representatives of the value of biofumigation relative to soil fumigation with synthetic chemicals.
4. Increase the use of cover crops in vegetable production systems in Wisconsin
5. Increase the number of growers who consider ecological principles when making management decisions.
6. Increase public awareness of biologically-based pest management alternatives and efforts by farmers to promote land stewardship.
7. Determine why covering soil enhances the efficacy of biofumigation.
8. Evaluate different cover crops, timing of biofumigation, and soil covering strategies


The biology of soil and importance of soil organisms for crop production was emphasized in all of our interactions with growers. We participated in a Soil Quality Workshop with other UW staff, providing information and the opportunity to view soil organisms using microscopes to about 50 growers and crop consultants.

We continued to work with a crop consultant and 12 of his clients interested in biofumigation. We collected post-biofumigation soil samples to evaluate the efficacy of different crops for reducing the initial inoculum of potato early dying pathogens (PED), Verticillium and root lesion nematodes.

We made a site visit to another grower, assisting them in their evaluation of cover crops by collecting soil samples. We offered our assistance to all growers in the form of free soil analyses of PED pathogens for their on-farm experiments.

We provided information at meetings of the Healthy Grown Ecolabel program and the general Wisconsin Potato Conference about biofumigation showing data comparing biofumigation versus soil fumigation.

We participated in an all-day meeting with Healthy Grown farmers and led a discussion about maintaining field records of pest population location and population densities.

We conducted research on forage pearl millet for Verticillium and nematode management, comparing the efficacy of incorporating the crop as a green manure in the fall as compared to dead crop residue in the spring.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

Presentation: Maintaining Field Records for Potato Early Dying, presented by A. MacGuidwin at a meeting of growers participating in the Healthy Grown Potato Program

MacGuidwin, A. E., and D. L. Knuteson. 2009. What if you can’t fumigate every field? Wisconsin’s Annual Potato Conference, 22:137-138.

Presentation: Nematodes and the Soil Food Web, presented by A. MacGuidwin at the Soil Quality Workshop

MacGuidwin, A. E. Pratylenchus penetrans is a common and persistent pathogen of potato in the North Central Region. North Central Meeting of the American Phytopathological Society, Ames IO.

MacGuidwin, A. E. Perplexing potato problems: potato early dying. Phytopathology 99:S158.


Deana Knuteson
IPM Field Coordinator
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Nutrient Pest Management Program
1575 Linden Drive
Madison, WI 53706
Office Phone: 6082659798