Anaerobic soil disinfestation (ASD) is a non-chemical alternative to soil fumigation based on the combined concepts of biofumigation, biosolarization, soil saturation, and forced shifts in the microbial community that are highly dependent upon soil temperature, moisture, and the availability of a labile carbon source. This method is currently being investigated in many countries, with its origins in the Netherlands and Japan. Different organic amendments are being evaluated as carbon sources for ASD, including rice bran in California and sugarcane molasses in Florida, USA. In Florida, composted poultry litter (CPL) and sugarcane molasses are applied with 5 cm of initial irrigation, and beds are then covered with totally impermeable film (TIF) and allowed to incubate for 3 weeks. Levels of anaerobicity are monitored throughout the treatment time with a cumulative Eh target of 50,000 mVh for control of some soilborne plant-pathogenic fungi. In order to address researchable issues related to the implementation and adoption of ASD, a regional project was initiated in the southeastern United States in which a multi-disciplinary team conducted ASD field trials to answer specific grower-driven questions concerning ASD. Using tomato as the target crop, field trials were established at multiple locations in order to determine whether ASD could be: conducted utilizing opaque TIF; established prior to a spring production system when soil temperatures are cooler than for fall production; and combined with herbicides without causing crop phytotoxicity. In addition, concerns over nitrogen loss to the atmosphere as well as issues regarding expense of effective labile carbon sources are addressed.
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