Farmers and agricultural professionals have great interest in exploiting beneficial soil organisms, especially in organic systems with their focus on soil health and reliance on natural cycles to manage plant health and pests. Endophytes are microorganisms that form non- pathogenic symbioses with plants and can confer benefits including growth promotion and increased plant tolerance to environmental stresses that are predicted to increase with climate change.
Organic vegetable growers need practical and cost-effective technology to reduce weed pressure and yield losses. In 2013-2014, OFRF funded Dr. Gladis Zinati at the Rodale Institute to perform laboratory and greenhouse trials on the weed suppressing ability of chemically- and biologically-designed compost extracts (DCE). Dr. Zinati found that DCEs with lower nitrate levels and greater nematode-to-protozoa ratios significantly reduced lambsquarter weed seed germination by 32% without affecting crop seed percent germination.
-Analyze several animal manure-based, organic-approved compost products for suppression of important soil-borne pathogens of vegetable crops in the Northeast -Determine applicability of a farmer-based test kit for assessment of compost maturity to predict suppressiveness -Evaluate compost effects on plant stand and crop composition -Determine changes in microbial activity, disease suppressiveness and soil nitrate nitrogen of organically managed soils after addition of a compost
Basil fusarium wilt is a seed-borne disease that can severely reduce basil yields. The biggest concern, however, is that the pathogen can persist in the soil for ten or more years preventing the future use of the land for basil production. The objective of this study was to develop organic control methods that would allow production in infested soil. Several organic mulches, a biocontrol product (Rootshield), and lime applications were examined on soil intentionally infested with fusarium. Basil plants mulched with a composted pine bark had the lowest incidence of fusarium wilt.
The objectives of this research were to: 1) Evaluate susceptibility to early blight in 16 heirloom and modern hybrid cultivars. 2) Evaluate whether disease incidence and severity are reduced on a susceptible tomato variety intercropped with a resistant variety, compared to a monoculture of the susceptible variety.
Seven materials approved for organic production were tested for foliar disease control on tomatoes on a certified organic farm in western New York. Four were commercial products registered for disease management on tomatoes (Plantshield, Mycostop, Trilogy, Champion WP). Three were materials thought to strengthen plant health and disease resistance through either soil or foliar application (CaCO3, SW-3, Humega). Plantshield is a formulation of the beneficial fungus Trichoderma harzianum labeled for foliar and soil drench applications.
The project objective is to breed a CMV resistant bell pepper using King of the North as a commercial parent. King of the North, which has been provided by Turtle Tree Seeds (located in Copake, NY), is an early, cold tolerant bell pepper variety. It is described as a superior variety for both market and home gardeners that matches or surpasses many hybrids. While seeking to add CMV resistance we do not want to compromise on quality or earliness, but rather improve on these traits that are very important to organic growers.
Our overall goal is to support the growth of an organic certified seed potato industry in Wisconsin. We have addressed this goal by conducting field trials on participating Wisconsin organic farms in order to test organic production methods for seed potatoes that meet certification standards. We used information from our field trials and from published literature to develop educational resources for organic growers on becoming certified seed potato growers using disease testing to monitor potato health and organic management strategies to control common potato diseases.
This project examined whether targeted mowing of winter rye cover crop (Secale cereale L.) would increase its weed suppression ability by increasing levels of rye’s major allelochemicals, Hydroaxamic acids (Hx), and subsequently increase crop yield in an organic tomato production system. The project was conducted on organic farms in Upper Marlboro (2003), and Beltsville (2004), Maryland, using a rye cover crop that was grown as a monoculture and as a mixture with crimson clover, and black mulch.