Pests > Pest Management > Cultural control > Composts, fungi & nematode control, US

Pests > Pest Management > Cultural control > Composts, fungi & nematode control, US

Pests Pest Management Cultural control Composts, fungi & nematode control, US

Composting: soil fungi and nematodes

January 2000. An oft asked question concerns the use of composts and their effects on soil-borne pathogenic nematodes and fungi. People interested in this question can gain useful inforation at the National Sustainable Agriculture website:

ATtrA – National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service – is managed by the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) and is funded under a grant from the United States Department of Agriculture’s Rural Business-Cooperative Service. It provides information and other technical assistance to farmers, ranchers, extension agents, educators, and others involved in sustainable agriculture in the United States. It has an on-line Ecological Pest Management Database.

A useful reference on the subject of composting and biocontrol is De Ceuster Tom J J, Hoitink Harry AJ (1999) Prospects for Composts and Biocontrol Agents as Substitutes for Methyl Bromide in Biological Control of Plant Diseases. Compost Science and Utilization Vol. 7(3): 6-15. The authors give an excellent account of the subject with over 60 references showing positive control under a wide variety of circumstances.

Also, the composting of disease and insect infested plant tissue is an excellent method for preventing spread. That is assuming the compost process is carried out in a manner that produces heat throughout the mass of the material being composted.

PestNet members mentioned that there was evidence from the Caribbean (WINBAN, St. Lucia) for mulch having a nematicidal effect in banana; it also has a beneficial effect on Capsicum annuum in Solomon Islands, an effect due to the potassium content of the mulch.

At the time (2000), there was also mention of the work of IITA in Uganda of the effect of mulch on nematodes in banana: See also:

Speijer PR, Kajumba C, Ssango F (1999) East African highland banana production as influeneced by nematodes and crop management in Uganda. International Journal of Pest Management 45(1): 41-49.

McIntyre BD, Speijer PR, Riha SJ, Kizito F (?2000) Effects of mulching on biomass, nutrients, and soil water in banana inoculated with nematodes. Agronomy Journal. (Accepted August 1999).

A quote from On-Farm Composting Handbook (page 13) published by the USDA in 1992 as part of an ongoing project supporting composting states: “The availability of microorganisms is rarely a problem in composting. Microbial competition and the composting environment ultimately determine which and how many organisms persist. The most effective and successful microorganisms are usually present naturally. However, inocula may be beneficial with a few materials that are slow to develop a large community of organisms. This situation, often referred to as a lag period, is rare but occurs with certain raw materials such as sterilized food wastes. In general, it is best to inoculate a material with active compost made from that same material.”