Oct. 1, 2008 - Sep. 30, 2009Award Number
Center for Produce SafetyInvestigator
Deborah A. Neher, Ph.D.
University of Vermont
Plant-parasitic nematodes cause major economic losses to horticultural and field crops in the U.S. Current control methods rely largely on nematicides (both fumigant and non-fumigant types) for most crops and pre-plant soil fumigation with the broad-purpose fumigant methyl bromide for high value fruit and vegetable crops. However, there are serious concerns about the use of nematicides in terms of food safety and environmental quality issues.Identification, characterization, and enhancement of resistant crop germplasm, antagonistic crops cover crops, and biocontrol agents are essential for the development of bio-based management options against plant-parasitic nematodes. Assessment of the effects of such management techniques on diversity of both plant-parasitic and free-living nematodes will increase our understanding of soil health and aid in development of sustainable crop management.If this work is not done, crop production will continue to move offshore where environmental standards for pesticide use are less stringent and our supply of safe, inexpensive grains, fruits, and vegetables will dwindle. Moreover, local farmers will lose market share and have reduced opportunities for economic development. This project will evaluate alternative cropping systems, biological materials for pest management, and gain a better understanding of the biological diversity in soil that leads to natural disease suppression. The long-term impacts of research efforts in the northeastern region will be a better understanding of bio-based cropping systems and lead to future alternatives for the reduction and dependency on nematicides and simultaneously increasing soil health.