FEATURED INFORMATION

Integrated management of soil-borne diseases

Xavier Sorribas
Director, Department of Agrifood Engineering and Biotechnology Polytechnic University of Catalonia

Soil-borne diseases are those brought on by abiotic causes (physical and chemical characteristics of the soil) and/or biotic ones (microorganisms in the soil) which weaken the plant by attacking its roots, stalk and/or vessels, and which can lead to the death of the plant.

A number of factors predispose plants to these types of disease, including:

  1. some agricultural practices (excessive or inadequate irrigation and/or fertilizer, indiscriminate use of plant protection products, harm to native antagonists, reduction of microbial activity in the soil, planting of plant material not adapted to the production zone), or
  2. the presence of potential crop pathogens and the interaction established between them.

Soil fumigants have traditionally been used to control these diseases by combating pathogens, along with nutrient supplements to alleviate deficiencies.Soil had to be disinfested when it was time to replant, and plant protection products had to be applied throughout the season to prevent propagation of infestation sites.

Soil-borne diseases are those brought on by abiotic causes (physical and chemical characteristics of the soil) and/or biotic ones (microorganisms in the soil) which weaken the plant by attacking its roots, stalk and/or vessels, and which can lead to the death of the plant.

A number of factors predispose plants to these types of disease, including:

  1. some agricultural practices (excessive or inadequate irrigation and/or fertilizer, indiscriminate use of plant protection products, harm to native antagonists, reduction of microbial activity in the soil, planting of plant material not adapted to the production zone), or
  2. the presence of potential crop pathogens and the interaction established between them.

Soil fumigants have traditionally been used to control these diseases by combating pathogens, along with nutrient supplements to alleviate deficiencies.Soil had to be disinfested when it was time to replant, and plant protection products had to be applied throughout the season to prevent propagation of infestation sites. Soil amendments, moreover, had to be applied on a regular basis, given the chronic nature of these conditions.

For many years now, different research groups both in Catalonia and elsewhere have been studying the biological characteristics of pathogens and the epidemiological characteristics of diseases. They have also focused on the mode of action and efficacy of control measures in order to select the right methods, determine optimal intervention timing and sequencing, and predict possible effects on the viability of harmful agents or on pathogen-plant interaction in the short, medium and long terms.

In short, these researchers seek long-lasting, environment-friendly solutions through an understanding of the agroecosystem. Examples include the following:

  1. Choosing plant material resistant to the main pathogens and adapted to the environmental conditions of the production area. This has been fundamental to being able to continue to farm some previously threatened species of commercial interest, e.g., citrus trees. Obtaining rootstock that is resistant to the Citrus tristeza virus, Phytophthora (a fungus that principally affects the plant’s roots and crown) and Tylenchulus semipenetrans (a citrus nematode) and which is well adapted to the soil and climate of the main citrus production areas in Spain has preserved the future of this crop.
  2. Maintaining and increasing activity levels of microbial antagonists in the soil through the use of organic amendments, compost, and other agents to counter the onset and course of epidemics.
  3. Use of micorrhyza-inoculated plants to interfere with the infective power of plant pathogens and make the plant more tolerant.
  4. Use of microbial plant protection products or PPPs of microbial origin, such as key crop pathogen antagonists.

Soil health should be considered from a holistic perspective in order to understand the problems and find the most suitable solutions, striving for the right balance for smart farming.

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Data protection policy

In accordance with the Organic Law on the Protection of Personal Data 15/1999, of 13 December, Promotora de Exportaciones Catalanas SA (hereinafter PRODECA), whose address is Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes, 620, principal, 08007 Barcelona, with tax reg. no. NIF A58241316, declares that the images contained on the website www.smartfruitcongress.cat are included in a file belonging to PRODECA. The purpose of this file is the promotion, via its website, of the activities conducted by PRODECA – SmartfFruit IPM International Congress.

PRODECA guarantees that you may, at any time, exercise your right to access, rectify, cancel or oppose by writing to the aforesaid postal address, using the reference "PROTECCIÓN DE DATOS - SMARTFRUIT", or to the email address smartfruitcongress@smartfruitcongress.cat.

Specifically, to correctly exercise these rights you must clearly provide the following items in that communication:
- Name, surname(s) and photocopy of National Identity Document or Passport.
- Statement of the purpose of the request.
- Address for notification purposes.
PRODECA also declares that it reserves the right to delete from its website any content that it considers violates current and applicable legislation.

D’acord amb l’article 17.1 de la Llei 19/2014, la ©Generalitat de Catalunya permet la reutilització dels continguts i de les dades sempre que se'n citi la font i la data d'actualització i que no es desnaturalitzi la informació (article 8 de la Llei 37/2007) i també que no es contradigui amb una llicència específica.