Rotation Reduces Nematodes
Novel Rotation Blocks Nematode Damage in Sugar Beets
|A University of Wyoming research assistant measures radish (left) and mustard (right) after 60 days of growth. Special varieties control nematodes. Photo by D. Koch|
Planting radish and mustard as 'trap' crops in the traditional sugar beet/barley rotation in Wyoming stymied damaging nematodes and shows promise as an inexpensive, environmentally beneficial alternative to pesticides, SARE-funded research at the University of Wyoming showed. Nematodes, which can drastically lower sugar beet yields, have prompted most producers to apply nematicides to protect the crop. Growing radishes after harvesting a crop such as wheat or malt barley reduced the nematode population by more than half in the subsequent sugar beet crop. Growing certain varieties of radishes and mustard - which attracts nematodes to their roots, then prevents them from reproducing - increased yields and eliminated the need for nematicides on cooperating farms.
In a typical 720-acre farm in the sugar beet-growing region, farmers can increase profit up to 6 percent annually; if 72 percent of sugar beet producers in Washakie County used the trap crops, collective profits could increase by at least $1 million a year. Farmers can get even more bang for their buck by bringing in lambs to graze the radish stand as a late-season forage. Research showed lamb weight gains of close to half a pound per day on 240 acres of radish, reducing feedlot time from 105 to 77 days and raising annual returns up to 9 percent. After a number of articles and presentations, project leaders have seen sales of the nematode-resistant mustard and radish seed increase, indicating some 640 acres of trap crops have been planted in the state. For more information, go to www.sare.org/projects/ and search for SW97-018.