Anaerobic Soil Disinfestation as Pre-plant Treatment for Perennial Strawberry in the Northeast

Project Overview

LNE20-409R
Project Type: Research Only
Funds awarded in 2020: $184,617.00
Projected End Date: 11/30/2023
Grant Recipients: Cornell University Cooperative Extension; Maine Organic Farmers & Gardeners Association
Region: Northeast
State: New York
Project Leader:
Laura McDermott
Cornell University Cooperative Extension

Commodities

  • Fruits: berries (strawberries)

Practices

  • Pest Management: biofumigation, integrated pest management, mulching - plastic, other
  • Soil Management: soil microbiology, soil quality/health

    Proposal abstract:

    Problem: Strawberries are an important, high value crop to northeast diversified farms. Since 2005, strawberry acreage/production has dropped by more than 50% in NYS resulting in market share loss while consumer interest in local produce rises. Recent inquiry into strawberry production barriers revealed 41% of farms had root disease or nematodes that impeded productivity while 28% were limited by weed pressure. Soil-borne disease management requires long crop rotations, and chemical control is relatively ineffective.
    Novel Approach: ASD is being researched in warm, annual strawberry production regions as a sustainable substitute for chemical fumigation. ASD has not had extensive testing in cold soils. Locally available carbon sources have not been tested. ASD has not been tested with matted-row perennial JB strawberry systems.
    Justification: Improving understanding and trust in ASD will increase adoption on strawberry farms and increase acreage and productivity. On-farm research trials will compare novel solutions with current farm practices. Removing primary barrier will improve related skills in fertility management, cultivar selection, overwintering etc. Environmental impacts will be reduced due to less emphasis on chemical treatment.
    Hypothesis: ASD will provide control of soil borne disease, nematode and weed pests of perennial JB strawberries in cool northeast soils; that carbon source used during ASD will impact the level of pest control; and that the benefit of ASD will encourage farmer adoption of this process as a sustainable pre-plant management practice for perennial matted row or plasticulture strawberry systems.
    Research Plan: These hypotheses will be tested with the help of five JB strawberry farmers located from Maine to western NY that use traditional matted row or plasticulture systems. Three ASD treatments using alfalfa meal, Brassicaceous seed meal and a locally available carbon source will be administered during year 1. Plant health, weed pressure, yield, soil quality and longevity of ASD effect will be measured for all the experimental treatments and the farm control using a randomized complete block design created to help determine significant difference. Expense and income will be tracked on all farms.
    Outreach Plan will include field workshops to be held at the participating farms during the third year of project. Winter presentations throughout the northeast and traditional outreach like newsletter articles will included with social media, video and podcast efforts. Paper submission to peer reviewed journal will be key part of outreach.
    Project Objective: We will test the cost effectiveness and utility of anaerobic soil disinfestation (ASD) using several different carbon sources in northeastern perennial June bearing strawberry systems. Effective, sustainable control of soil borne disease, nematodes and weeds in matted row or plasticulture systems will improve yields, reduce chemical reliance and support farmers using a strawberry production system unique to northern and central regions of the United States.

    Performance targets from proposal:

    This project will test the cost effectiveness and utility of anaerobic soil disinfestation (ASD) using several different carbon sources in northeastern perennial June-bearing (JB) strawberry systems. Effective, sustainable control of soil borne disease, nematodes and weeds in matted row or plasticulture strawberry systems will encourage improved yields, reduce herbicide and fungicide reliance and support the farmers that are using a strawberry production system that is unique to northern and central regions of the United States.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.