Managing for Soil Health can suppress Pests

Authors: Amanda Hodson and Edwin E. Lewis

Journal Title: California Agriculture

Publisher: University of California, Los Angeles

Abstract

A “healthy” soil can be thought of as one that functions well, both agronomically and ecologically, and one in which soil biodiversity and crop management work in synergy to suppress pests and diseases. UC researchers have pioneered many ways of managing soil biology for pest management, including strategies such as soil solarization, steam treatment and anaerobic soil disinfestation, as well as improvements on traditional methods, such as reducing tillage, amending soil with organic materials, and cover cropping. As managing for soil health becomes more of an explicit focus due to restrictions on the use of soil fumigants, integrated soil health tests will be needed that are validated for use in California. Other research needs include breeding crops for disease resistance and pest suppressive microbial communities as well as knowledge of how beneficial organisms influence plant health.

Photo: As soil fumigant use becomes more restricted, UC researchers are studying alternative pest suppression strategies such as soil solarization, shown here, and anaerobic soil disinfestation. (Credit: University of California)

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Ag Sustainability And Innovation
Ag Sustainability And Innovation