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Soil diseases in vegetables under attack in new project

AHR’s Dr Gordon Rogers says a new system effectively combines valuable information and control methods developed by researchers with a solid economic assessment.

AHR’s Dr Gordon Rogers says a new system effectively combines valuable information and control methods developed by researchers with a solid economic assessment.

Link to ABC Rural story and interview

Soil-borne diseases are a major threat to vegetable produce in intensive cropping systems, costing Australia’s $4 billion vegetable industry around $120 million per annum, while management has become more difficult with fewer chemical control options, more intensive rotations and consumer demand for “perfect” produce.

It is not surprising then, that growers and their advisers have identified soil-borne diseases as the main challenge for soil management and crop protection.

Now, a new three-year project, which will be guided by a panel of growers and industry specialists, aims to provide Australian vegetable growers with the tools, information and skills they need to manage the risk of crop losses due to soil-borne disease in the major vegetable growing regions in Australia.

Project leader Dr Gordon Rogers of Applied Horticultural Research, (AHR) said, “There are five soil-borne disease groups that continue to be a major problem for Australian vegetable growers: Sclerotinia spp. (S. sclerotiorum and S. minor), Fusarium spp. (F. oxysporum and F. solani), water moulds (primarily Pythium spp.), nematodes and Rhizoctonia spp.

“Through this project we are delivering a truly effective soil-borne disease management service to Australian growers, utilising the successful extension and delivery framework already developed under the Soil Wealth and Integrated Crop Protection projects,” he said.

 

A disease-free product is easier to market, and one which brings a premium price to the grower. The difference is significant between healthy leeks grown in healthy soil following a biofumigant cover crop (at left) and (at right) a less-than-optimum result – control crop of leeks where no cover crop was grown.

A disease-free product is easier to market, and one which brings a premium price to the grower. The difference is significant between healthy leeks grown in healthy soil following a biofumigant cover crop (at left) and (at right) a less-than-optimum result – control crop of leeks where no cover crop was grown.

The Soil Wealth and Integrated Crop Protection projects led jointly by AHR and Dr Doris Blaesing from RMCG have created a new national framework for the delivery of soil and crop protection information to Australian vegetable growers.

They have resulted in new resources and approaches to communicate information and skills to the vegetable industry, including:

  • Best-practice demonstration sites with leading growers in ten Australian regions
  • Website and Facebook sites
  • A soil-borne disease masterclass run in September, 2015
  • Field days, regional workshops and interest groups
  • Videos, factsheets and social media deliver information and training to vegetable growers and agronomists
  • A network of 1500 growers, agronomists, resellers and chemical companies interested in soil-borne disease management.

The 25 growers and advisers who attended the recent soil-borne disease masterclass learnt about the core principles and heard cutting-edge advice on managing soil-borne disease in a variety of vegetable production systems.

The research component of the project will be led by Dr Len Tesoriero, Senior Plant Pathologist with NSW Department of Primary Industries; Kym White, an economist with RMCG, will concentrate on new tools for the economic risk assessment as needs are identified.

This project has been funded by Horticulture Innovation Australia Limited using the vegetable industry levy and funds from the Australian Government.

For more information contact:

Dr Gordon Rogers   M: 0418 517 777   P: 02 8627 1040

gordon@ahr.com.au

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