Oilseed radish/black oat subsidiary crops can help regulate plant-parasitic nematodes under non-inversion tillage in an organic wheat-potato rotation

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Soil conservation is one of the major challenges for agriculture in the 21st century. For this reason, non-inversion tillage systems including subsidiary crops have become popular over the last three decades in Europe. However, the adoption of new agricultural practices may change the diversity and abundance of certain pests and diseases. For example, plant-parasitic nematodes that are major threats towards cultivated plants may be promoted if good hosts, such as certain subsidiary crops and weeds, occur more frequently. The indigenous plant-parasitic nematode fauna under organic farming systems is already adapted to diverse crop rotations and usually dominated by nematodes with broad host ranges. These may be further enhanced in organic farming systems if non-inversion tillage is introduced, which generally increases the abundance and biomass of certain weeds. We evaluated the early effects of non-inversion tillage and subsidiary crops in an organic wheat-potato rotation on plant-parasitic nematodes in two field experiments in two successive years. The total densities of plant-parasitic nematodes increased from an initial 1260 nematodes (100 ml soil)−1 at the start of the experiment to 1850 and 1700 nematodes (100 ml soil)−1 after wheat under non-inversion and conventional tillage, respectively. Plant-parasitic nematode densities then decreased on average to 1100 and 560 nematodes (100 ml soil)−1 after subsidiary crops and potatoes, respectively. Parasitic nematode densities tended to be higher under non-inversion than conventional tillage, except where oilseed radish and black oats had been used as cover crops. For the latter, no differences between tillage treatments occurred. In the second experiment, about 1700 free-living nematodes (100 ml soil)−1 were found under conventional tillage without mulch while under reduced tillage with mulch their numbers were significantly higher at 3100 nematodes (100 ml soil)−1. We conclude that an appropriate choice of subsidiary crops can be an important management factor for the long term sustainability of non-inversion tillage systems.

Oilseed radish/black oat subsidiary crops can help regulate plant-parasitic nematodes under non-inversion tillage in an organic wheat-potato rotation

in Nematology



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    Nematode dynamics over time (before wheat, after wheat, after subsidiary crops (SC), and after potatoes) for the four most common genera (Helicotylenchus, Paratylenchus, Pratylenchus and Tylenchorhynchus) and others (Criconematidae, Meloidogyne) affected by (A) conventional (CT) and non-inversion (RT) tillage and (B) spring vetch (Vetch) and oilseed radish/black oat (OR/BO) cover crops sown after wheat compared to a green fallow (Fallow). Data are averaged across both experiments. Different capital and lower letters indicate statistically different treatments for total nematode densities and single nematode genera, respectively, after respective crops (P<0.05, protected LSD-test).

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    Redundancy analysis biplots for (A) Experiment 1 and (B) Experiment 2 of plant-parasitic nematode species dynamics (ln(Pf+1)ln(Pi+1)) averaged across compost and replicates. Responses to the interactions of main crops (wheat, triangles point up; potato, squares) and subsidiary crops (green fallow, circles; vetch, triangles point down; oilseed radish/black oat (OR/BO), diamonds) with tillage (CT, conventional tillage, unfilled symbols; RT, non-inversion tillage, filled symbols) are shown including replicates as co-variables. Axis labels indicate percentage of explained variance. Arrows show directions of increasing nematode species abundance. Abbreviations: Cri = Criconematidae, Hel = Helicotylenchus, Mel = Meloidogyne, Par = Paratylenchus, Pra = Pratylenchus, Tyl = Tylenchorhynchus.

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    Densities of free-living nematodes (untransformed means + SD) after harvest of potatoes in the second experiment as affected by conventional (CT) and non-inversion (RT) tillage, subsidiary crops (summer vetch, oilseed radish/ black oat (OR/BO), and green fallow), and yard waste compost (+YWC, with; −YWC, without); P-values and not significant (n.s.) factors are results of the 3-factorial ANOVA with ln(x+1)-transformed data including replicates as conditional variables; df are 3 and 30 for tillage and subsidiary crops and compost, respectively.


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