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Journal of Integrative Agriculture
Vol. 14 (11), 2015, Pages: 2309–2318

Anaerobic soil disinfestation: A chemical-independent approach to pre-plant control of plant pathogens

S L Strauss, D A Kluepfel

USDA-ARS Crops Pathology and Genetics Research Unit, University of California, Davis, CA 95616, USA.


Due to increasing regulations and restrictions, there is an urgent need to develop effective alternatives to chemical-dependent fumigation control of soilborne pests and pathogens. Anaerobic soil disinfestation (ASD) is one such alternative showing great promise for use in the control of soilborne pathogens and pests. This method involves the application of a carbon source, irrigation to field capacity, and covering the soil with a plastic tarp. While the mechanisms of ASD are not completely understood, they appear to be a combination of changes in the soil microbial community composition, production of volatile organic compounds, and the generation of lethal anaerobic conditions. The variety of materials and options for ASD application, including carbon sources, soil temperature, and plastic tarp type, influence the efficacy of pathogen suppression and disease control. Currently, both dry (e.g., rice bran) and liquid (e.g., ethanol) carbon sources are commonly used, but with different results depending on environmental conditions. While solarization is not an essential component of ASD, it can enhance efficacy. Understanding the mechanisms that mediate biological changes occurring in the soil during ASD will facilitate our ability to increase ASD efficacy while enhancing its commercial viability.

Keywords: anaerobic soil disinfestation; biological soil disinfestation; soilborne pathogens; fumigation.

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