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Growing Brassica juncea as a cover crop, then incorporating its residues provide complementary control of Rhizoctonia root rot of sugar beet

Motisi N., Montfort F., Faloya V., Lucas P., Doré T.. 2009. Field Crops Research, 113 (3) : p. 238-245.

DOI: 10.1016/j.fcr.2009.05.011

Biofumigation is increasingly viewed as a potentially useful technique for controlling soil-borne crop pathogens, but its efficacy has not systematically been demonstrated at field scale. We investigated the differences in efficacy observed in the field, by analysing the mechanisms by which a Brassica cover crop can act as a biofumigant crop in the prevention of soil-borne disease development. We hypothesised that the biofumigant crop might have a negative effect on soil-borne pathogens whilst growing, and that the pulverisation of this crop and the incorporation of its residues into the soil may enhance this effect. We tested this hypothesis by carrying out three field experiments in 2006, 2007 and 2008 in which Brassica juncea (brown mustard) was managed in different ways within a sugar beet-winter wheat rotation and analysing effects on sugar beet root rot caused by Rhizoctonia solani. Three treatments were studied: mustard pulled out at flowering (MP), mustard crushed at flowering and incorporated into the soil (MC) and bare soil (BS) as a control. Weassessed the effect of each treatment on root rot incidence and severity at harvest. Over the 3 years of the experiment, disease incidence was significantly higher on BS plots than on the other plots and was significantly higher on MP plots than on MC plots. MC treatment gave a significantly lower mean conditional severity (severity calculated for diseased beets only) than the BS and MP treatments. Mustard residue incorporation was consistently effective at decreasing disease incidence from year to year (43, 44 and 47% efficacy, as determined by comparison with the disease incidence on BS plots, in 2006, 2007 and 2008, respectively), but the efficacy of growing mustard was variable (36, 16 and 39% efficacy in 2006, 2007 and 2008, respectively). These findings provide insight into the mechanisms by which biofumigant crops may affect soil-borne diseases. These findings have implications for the possible use of biofumigant crops as a biological method for controlling soil-borne diseases at the field scale.

Mots-clés : rhizoctonia solani; brassica juncea; plante de couverture; résidu de récolte; lutte biologique; gestion intégrée des ravageurs; maladie des plantes; glucosinolate

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