Sustainable Potato Production: Global Case Studies

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To account for the differential impacts of various greenhouse gases, all impacts were expressed in terms of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions CO 2 e. Results indicated that the mustard cover crop approach generated kg of CO 2 e per hectare lb CO 2 e per acre less than the conventional approach. Agricultural and forestry systems can also draw carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and store carbon in the soil. When organic matter levels increase, additional carbon is sequestered.

In the initial thirteen years, the biofumigant cover crop approach including both soil carbon and the other greenhouse gas impacts discussed above saved over 3, kg CO 2 e per hectare 3, lb CO 2 e per acre annually compared to the approach that did not use a cover crop — though it is important to recognize that the amount of new carbon sequestered decreases over time, as soils will not continue to add carbon indefinitely.

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You can also watch the process of incorporation , which is much louder than the no-tillage systems we also think of for building soil carbon! Lazzeri, L. Gamliel, J. Coosemans A. Vanachter, and J. Katan, eds. McGuire, A. In long-term field trials in California, soybean grown as a green manure prevented the build-up of common scab over a period of 13 years, maintaining minimal disease levels compared to a rapid increase in common scab with pea or barley green manures and in the potato control Weinhold et al.

However, the soybean green manure was not effective in reducing common scab in a field with an already established high population of pathogen and high disease pressure. The sudangrass, rapeseed, and oat green manure treatments also reduced wilt in a second successive potato crop the following year. In these trials, disease reduction was not necessarily associated with reduction of pathogen inoculum, but was associated with reductions in root infections, increased microbial activity, and specific changes in microbial populations Davis et al.

Multiple follow-up studies with sudangrass green manures in subsequent years also showed reduced Verticillium wilt disease and improved tuber quality and yield, and that the benefits of sudangrass treatments extended beyond disease suppression and were correlated with increases in Fusarium spp.

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Single season applications of green manures of sudangrass, winter pea, and broccoli at different biomass rates reduced inoculum density of V. Single-season green manure treatments of buckwheat or canola have resulted in significantly less Verticillium wilt and marginally less common scab as well as increased potato yield relative to fallow control plots Wiggins and Kinkel a.

In these experiments, green manure treatments were also associated with an increase in the density and pathogen-inhibitory activity of indigenous Streptomycetes toward multiple soilborne potato pathogens S. Green manures of certain crops are also associated with biofumigation, which refers to the breakdown of plant metabolites in soil to produce volatile compounds that can reduce populations of weeds, nematodes, and plant pathogens Matthiessen and Kirkegaard ; Sarwar et al.

Crops in the Brassicaceae family produce glucosinolates that break down to produce isothiocyanates, whereas Sudangrass produces cyanogenic glucosides that break down to produce hydrogen cyanide, that are toxic to many soil organisms. Use of these plants as green manure crops has been shown to reduce pathogens or diseases Brown and Morra ; Kirkegaard et al. Although biofumigation is the presumed mechanism of action for these crops, further research has indicated that additional mechanisms, including specific changes in soil microbial communities not related to levels of glucosinolate or other toxic metabolites, are also important in the reduction of soilborne diseases by Brassica crops, particularly for the control of Rhizoctonia Cohen et al.

Because of the potential for biofumigation effects, interest and use of Brassica crops as rotation and green manure crops has been increasing in recent years, in various fruit, vegetable, and field crops Mazzola and Mullinix ; Subbarao et al. In commercial applications of Brassica green manures in the Pacific Northwest, white mustard Sinapis alba and oriental mustard Brassica juncea green manures resulted in comparable tuber yield, quality, and disease control as fumigation with Metam sodium, improved certain soil properties, such as infiltration rate, and also provided an economic benefit McGuire In our own research with Brassica green manures, a variety of Brassica crops canola, rapeseed, Indian mustard, yellow mustard, turnip, and oilseed radish and barley green manure treatments reduced soil inoculum levels of R.

Disease reductions were not always associated with higher glucosinolate-producing crops and were also observed with non-Brassica green manures barley and ryegrass , indicating other mechanisms and interactions were important, particularly for control of R. Overall, Indian mustard high-glucosinolate, B. The mustard blend also reduced other soilborne diseases and increased tuber yield relative to the barley control.

However, by the second rotation cycle second potato crop , wilt was high in all treatments, and was not effectively reduced by the green manures, indicating that a 2-year green manure-potato rotation was not sustainable for disease management Larkin et al. Our research with Brassica green manures is continuing with evaluations of the best rotation crops for disease control, enhancing the extent of disease reduction, determining the best methods of application and implementation, and the economic consequences of these rotations.

Sustainable Potato Production: Global Case Studies

In this ongoing study, the 32 R. For this study, 3-year cropping systems designed to specifically address management issues of soil conservation, soil improvement, and disease suppression were established and their subsequent effects on crop production were determined and compared with standards representing a typical potato cropping system and a non-rotation control under both irrigated and non-irrigated conditions.

In this component of the overall research project, these cropping systems were evaluated for their effects and interactions on soilborne diseases and soil microbial community characteristics.

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Data were collected in the potato cropping year of each system following the complete rotation cycle. To date, results have been compiled for 5 full years following the first complete rotation cycle — Results regarding soilborne diseases and soil microbiology for the first 3 data years has been published thus far Larkin et al. Some cumulative results for the first five seasons are presented here.

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  7. Subsequent reports will provide results from our interdisciplinary evaluation of these cropping systems on soil physical and chemical properties, plant nutrition, plant growth, tuber yield, economic viability, and other properties. This system includes regular spring and fall tillage each year. The soil conserving system SC consisted of a 3-year rotation of barley underseeded with the forage grass timothy Phleum pratense L , and then the timothy would overwinter and be allowed to continue undisturbed for a full year 2nd year , and then followed by potato in the third year. In this system tillage was also substantially reduced, with no tillage except immediately prior to planting potato and as needed for normal maintenance and harvest of the potato crop.

    In addition, straw mulch was applied after potato harvest to further conserve soil resources. The disease-suppressive system DS was designed to make use of multiple strategies for suppressing soilborne diseases, including the use of disease-suppressive rotation crops, a longer rotation period, crop diversity, green manures, and fall cover crops.

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    In the 2nd year, a disease-suppressive Sorghum-Sudangrass hybrid Sorghum bicolor x S. Continuous potato PP was the nonrotation control consisting of a potato crop planted in the same plots each year.

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    All cropping systems were evaluated under both irrigated and rainfed management. Full experimental details and methodologies are provided elsewhere Larkin et al. Rhizoctonia diseases generally occurred at low to moderate severity levels 0.

    Black scurf severity levels and cropping system effects varied somewhat from year to year, but average levels combined from multiple years were representative of the levels observed. Combined data averaged over 3 crop years illustrated the overall effects Larkin et al. Overall average populations of culturable bacteria and fungi were higher in SI soils than all other cropping systems, with bacterial populations in DS soils next highest, and lowest microbial populations observed in PP soils.

    General microbial activity, as estimated by average substrate utilization across numerous carbon sources AWCD , indicated highest activity in the SI and SQ soils, and lowest activity in the PP soils.

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    Substrate diversity and richness tended to be higher in DS soils Larkin et al. Analysis of the soil fatty acid data indicated that soil FAME profiles were distinctly different for each of the cropping systems, and that overall characteristics for each system were fairly consistent from year to year. Graphical depiction of the first two canonical variates CV 1 and CV2 from canonical variates analysis from combined data for all 3 years illustrated that soil from each cropping system had microbial characteristics that were very distinct from each other system Fig.

    Irrigation also had some effects on soil microbial characteristics but these effects were minor in comparison to cropping system effects, as indicated by the greater separation among the cropping systems and closer proximity of the irrigated and not irrigated values for each cropping system. Analysis of FAME parameters and characteristics also indicated significant differences among the cropping systems regarding FAME structural classes and indicator biomarkers. SI soil had the highest proportion of the mycorrhizae biomarker among cropping systems, whereas DS and PP had the lowest level of the mycorrhizae biomarker.

    PP soil also had the lowest levels of the fungi marker and the fungi:bacteria ratio Larkin et al. All these differences indicate that each cropping system affected microbial communities in distinct and different ways. SI, through addition of organic matter as composted dairy manure, had the greatest effects on soil properties, and improved soil quality through numerous 36 R.

    SC improved soil conservation relative to the standard, 2-year, SQ rotation by limiting tillage, reducing erosion, and lengthening the rotation period. However, in this study, these changes in the SC system did not result in significant effects on soil properties, diseases, yield, or most soil microbial assessments relative to the SQ rotation.

    Several other studies have also observed that these types of changes limited tillage, additional year of rotation often do not result in significant changes within the first few years of implementation Carter and Sanderson ; Carter et al. The DS system, consisting of Brassica and Sudangrass green manure crops, fall cover crops, and high crop diversity, resulted in the greatest reductions in stem and stolon canker, black scurf, and common scab relative to the other rotations, under both irrigated and non-irrigated conditions, thus accomplishing the disease-suppressive objective.

    DS also produced significant shifts in soil microbial community characteristics different from all other rotations. Thus, the strategies used for the disease sup- 2 Impacts of Crop Rotation and Irrigation on Soilborne Diseases… 37 pression system, the use of disease-suppressive biofumigation rotation crops, cover crops, and crop diversity, successfully reduced disease relative to other rotations.

    Irrigation improved yield substantially in most cropping systems all but SI throughout, even in the wetter years. However, irrigation also tended to increase disease problems for both black scurf and common scab. Overall, soil water, soil quality, and soilborne diseases were all important factors involved in constraining productivity, and systems addressing these constraints enhanced productivity.

    However, for future long-term productivity, it will likely be necessary to balance the need for low disease levels with sustainable cropping practices to optimize yields. And it is clear that the effects of crop rotations extend far beyond that of serving as a simple break in the host-pathogen cycle, with extensive influences on soil microbial community dynamics and characteristics, and potential for inhibiting, suppressing, and inactivating pathogen growth, survival, and disease development.

    All aspects of the rotations rotation crop, crop genotype, rotation length, crop sequence, crop management, etc. Different uses of crop rotations as full-season, cover, or green manure crops also will result in different effects on soil microorganisms, and potentially different resultant effects on soilborne diseases. Overall, green manure crops may have the greatest potential for management of soilborne diseases, with their large additions of organic matter, specific effects on soil microbial communities, and potential for direct antagonism of pathogens through toxic breakdown compounds, but significant reductions in soilborne diseases can be observed with all types of rotations.

    In many cases, crop rotations are effective at reducing multiple diseases with a single cropping practice, although other cases exist where control of one disease results in increases in some other diseases. In general, disease control from crop rotation ranges from moderate to substantial, but will almost certainly never result in complete control of a pathogen or pathogens. Thus, crop rotations are best implemented as an important component of an integrated disease management program and not as the only control means for soilborne diseases Lazarovits Combining crop rotations with other cultural, biological, or chemical approaches can substantially increase disease control and help achieve greater sustainability.

    The use of crop rotations as a crucial component in the active management of soil microbial communities to develop disease suppression and greater crop productivity 38 R. However, much additional research is needed to determine the specific effects and interactions among different crop rotations and soil microorganisms, the roles and effects of the changes in soil microbial communities on soilborne diseases, and establishment and maintenance of stable disease suppression through management of soil physical, chemical, and biological attributes.

    Acknowledgements We thank the many people who have worked on or contributed to this research over the years, from summer workers and student aides, filed crews, technicians, colleagues, and miscellaneous expertise. In particular, we thank L. Matthiesen for her thorough and capable technical assistance on all aspects of this work; D. Cowperthwaite and D. Torrey for managing and maintaining the field sites; P.

    Pinette, G. Trusty, E. Champaco, B. LeGasse, and E. Mallory for additional technical support; and all the others without whom these large-scale, longterm studies could never be completed. Weed Technol — Brewer MT Effects of biological control and a ryegrass rotation on rhizoctonia disease of potato. Thesis M.

    J Agric Food Chem — Carter MR, Sanderson JB Influence of conservation tillage and rotation length on potato productivity, tuber disease and soil quality parameters on a fine sandy loam in eastern Canada. Biol Fertil Soils — 2 Impacts of Crop Rotation and Irrigation on Soilborne Diseases… 39 Cook RJ Interrelationships of plant health and the sustainability of agriculture, with special reference to plant diseases. Agroindustria — Grandy AS, Porter GA, Erich MS Organic amendment and rotation crop effects on the recovery of soil organic matter and aggregation in potato cropping systems.