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Disease Suppression With Composts

Mario Tenuta Department of Soil Science

Common Use of Composts in Agricultural Systems

Soil conditioners Soil fertilizers Soil potting medium Disease suppressors?

Hardwood Bark Compost Control of Phythium Root Rot

Peat Mix

With Compost

Source: H. Hoitink

Hardwood Bark Compost Control of Phytophthora Collar Rot of Apple

Peat Mix

Compost Mix

Source: H. Hoitink


Composted red oak bark was suppressive to many soilborne fungal pathogens if

Medium had good drainage Medium allowed to mature Medium colonized by beneficial micoorganisms Medium low in salts and available nitrogen

Compost required "extra maturity" and addition of inoculant for suppression to Rhizoctonia solani and Sclerotium spp. Not effective against weeds, microarthropod and nematode pests

Compost Process and Presence of Antagonist Microorganisms

Antagonists Fungi Trichoderma Gliocladium Bacteria Bacilus Pseudomonas Streptomyces

How Do Composts Work?

Mode of Action of Compost


Modified rooting environment Microbial antagonists ­ Biological Control Systemic Induced Resistance


Direct Effect ­ Biological Control

Immature Compost Available nutrients Ready sources of substrates Antagonists become saphrophytic Pathogens flourish and cause disease Mature Compost Available nutrients low Recalcitrant sources of substrates

Source: Benhamou and Chet 1993 Phytopathology 83:1062-1071

Antagonists become competitive and parasitic to pathogens Pathogens die

Systemic Induced Resistance

Beneficial soil organism prepares plant to defend against pathogens Trichoderma hamatum added to compost Colletotrichum orbiculare added as foliar pathogen

Peat Mix

Composted Pine Bark

Source: H. Hoitink

Where Compost is Suppressive

Potting medium

Damping off (Pythium, Rhizoctonia) Root rot (Phytophthora) Wilts (Fusarium, Verticillium) pH control Drainage Biological control Systemic Induced Resistance

Mode of action?

Response in Greenhouse Tomato to Suppressive Compost and Fusarium

+ compost

- compost

Cheuk et al. 2005 Journal of Environmental Science and Health Part B, 40:449­461, 2005

Response of Bioassay Plant (Arabidopsis) to Compost

14 Days 28 Days

Paplomatas et al. 2005 European Journal of Plant Pathology (2005) 112: 183­189

Not all Composts are Suppressive Example Verticillium in Arabidopsis

aggravating suppressive


Wood chips

Paplomatas et al. 2005 European Journal of Plant Pathology (2005) 112: 183­189

Where Compost is Suppressive

Turfgrass top-dressing

Fusarium patch Red thread (Laetisaria) Damping-off Brown patch (Rhizoctonia) Dollar spot (Sclerotinia) Snow mould (Typhula)

Grass clipping compost inoculated with Bacilus subtilis Mode of action?

Biological control Turf health

Compost to Turf

Source: E. Nelson

Suppression With Microbial Activity of Brewery Compost to Turf

Pythium damping-off

Microbial Activity

Source: Craft and Nelson. 1996. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 62:1550-1557

CMCDC Potato Early Dying Field Study

3 years experiment Block IV

1st year

Block II Wheat


2nd year


3rd year


Block III

Green Manure Amendments Wheat Wheat/Vapam Wheat Oriental mustard Yellow mustard Canada milk vetch Sorghum/Sudan Sorghum/Sudan Oat/Peas Fall ­ Rye Compost/Wheat Alfalfa

Potato Potato Potato Mustard meal/Potato Potato Potato Potato Potato Potato Potato Potato Compost/Potato Potato

Wheat Block I Wheat Wheat Wheat Wheat Wheat Wheat Sorghum/Sudan Wheat Wheat Wheat Alfalfa

Soil Building Green Manures

Fall Rye Improve soil environment for plant growth and beneficial organisms in field

Promoting interactions between soil organisms for control of soil-borne pathogens



Composted cattle manure 44.5 wet ton.ha-1

Trap crops

Sorghum Sudan grass

"Trick pathogens to thinking host is available but then die"

Toxicity to MS

Canada Milk Vetch Decomposition of organic amendments can release volatile and non-volatile toxic compounds.


Biofumigation Use of chemical that naturally occur in the Brassica family of plants to suppress soil-borne disease.

Mustard seed meal. 0.5% v/v.

Germination of Verticillium


% germination



60 40 20 0

Mustard meal Vapam

Wheat Control

Mustard meal

Vapam Oat/peas

Milk Vetch

Sorghum Sorghum Fall rye Oriental Yellow Alfalfa (2 years) (1 year) mustard mustard (2 years)


Verticillium Density in Soil


45 40

No. of propagules . g-1 of soil

40 35

30 25 20

35 30 25 20

Spring 2007 Fall 2007 Spring 2008 Potato harves Spring 2007 Fall 2007 Spring 2008 Potato harvest t Spring 2007 Fall 2007 Spring 2008



10 10 5 5

0 0

Wheat Compost Mustard Vapam Oat/peas meal Control

Milk Sorghum Sorghum Fall rye Oriental Yellow Alfalfa mustard mustard (2 years) Vetch (2 years) (1 year)


Vertical bar = standard error. n=4

Verticillium Incidence Sorghum

100 90 80 70

Vapam c


% Incidence

60 50 40 30 20 10 0

bc* Compost ab

Wheat Control

bc abc abc


Rye abc abc bc

Mustard meal a

Vapam Oat/peas Milk Vetch Sorghum Sorghum Fall rye (2 years) (1 year) Oriental mustard Yellow Alfalfa mustard (2 years)

Compost Mustard meal


*Means with different letters are significant different according to the Duncan's protected least difference ( P 0.05).

100 90 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 0 5 10 15 20 25

% Incidence

Pearson's correlation coefficient r for inoculum density of V. dahliae and Verticillium wilt incidence

r=0.72 p<0.007




Yield (cwt.acre-1)

Effect on Total Tuber Yield

Pearson's correlation coefficient r for potato yield and Verticillium wilt incidence

390 370 350 330 310 290 270 250 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100

r=-0.82 p<0.001

Mustard seed meal % Incidence

Effect of green manure and organic amendments treatments on total tuber yield

450 400


wt. acre-1

350 300 250 200 150 100 50 0


Wheat Compost Mustard meal Control




Milk Vetch

Sorghum Sorghum (2 years) (1 year)

Alfalfa Fall rye Oriental Yellow mustard mustard (2 years)

cwt Yield acre 100 120 140 160 180 200 20 Regular Bonus Overweight 40 60 80 0

C h C eck om M po us st tM ea Va l pa O m a M t/pe il So k V a rg et /S ch So ud rg 2Y /S ud r 1 R ye Yr O gra ri en ss M W ust h M us t A lf 2 yr


Amendments and Green Manures on Potato

Compost Addition to WinklerCMCDC Soil

500 400

Check Compost

cwt Yield acre-1





Russet Burbank

Umatilla Russet

Russet Burbank

Umatilla Russet



Composted cattle manure 80 t ha-1

Compost and Mustard Meal Addition to Winkler Soil

350 300


250 200 150 100 50 0 Check Mustard Meal Compost

cwt Yield acre

Composted cattle manure 80 t ha-1; meal 10 t ha-1

Lower Rate Compost (20 t ha-1)

Cattle manure compost 20 t ha-1 in 2010 to clay loam Rate equivalent to total amount K fertilizer recommendation CMCDC-Winkler site on saline and non-saline soil Russett Burbank and Umatilla Russet grown No yield benefit with compost addition at this rate

How May Compost Be Effective?

Two studies on commercial potato fields in Manitoba show relation of soil organic matter (%) to Potato Early Dying One study was a survey of 22 fields done in 2003 Other study was done on 4 fields in 2004 where there were diseased and healthy patches

Survey of 22 Fields

Tenuta et al. in preparation

Study of Diseased and Healthy Patches

1.8 1.5 1.2

Healthy Wilt (Arc sin sqrt) = 1.82 -4.46 OM (Arc sin sqrt) R 2 = 0.12; P = 0.003




0.6 0.3

) q s r A ( e d c n t l i W %

0 0.1 1.8

Wilt (Arc sin sqrt) = 1.21 -4.21 OM (Arc sin sqrt) R 2 = 0.23; P = 0.0001

0.12 0.14 0.16 0.18 % Organic matter (Arc sin sqrt)

Wilt (Arc sin sqrt) = 1.21 -4.21 OM (Arc sin sqrt) Briar



b et al. in preparation


Composts effective against root rots and damping-off diseases Effective as potting medium or turfgrass topdressing Bark, grass clipping and brewery composts most effective to date Immature compost can aggravate disease Mode of action numerous Efficacy improved with inoculation of antagonists Compost beef cattle manure seems to reduce Potato Early Dying disease and improve yield

Hardwood Bark Compost

Red Oak bark particles 0.5-2.5cm High cellulose content With nitrogen addition rapid composting occurs (Phase I, II, III) Mature compost suppressive to many diseases

Fungicidal inhibitors Colonized with antagonist microflora Excellent porosity ­ rapid drainage

Suppressive Bark Compost Recipe

Fresh ground hardwood bark or brush One of the following nitrogen sources

0.3 kg N/m3 as fertilizer Grass clippings 10-20% of volume Poultry manure or sewage compost 10-15%

Maintain moisture at 60-70% of weight Minimum of 6 weeks till mature Inoculate with antogonists after peak heating If not inoculated allow mature for 3 months

Source: Hoitink and Changa. 2004. Acta Hort. 635:87-92

Suppressive Turf Compost Recipe

Fresh grass clippings 10:1 (clipping:mature compost) by weight 1 day at 80oC Cooled to 23oC and inoculated with Bacilus subtilis 3 days at 40oC 7 days at 70oC Throughout moisture at 40-55% by weight

Source: Nakasaki, Hiraoka, and Nagata. 1998. Appl.Environ. Microbiol. 64:4015-4020

Verticillium Soil Population Determinations Pathogen Verticillium dahliae

1. Inhibition of microsclerotia. (Germination %)

2. Inoculum density. (# of microsclerotia . g-1 of soil)


Disease Suppression With Composts

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Disease Suppression With Composts