Conservation Tillage Systems in the Southeast


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Plant-parasitic nematodes can become a greater challenge in fields after making the switch to a conservation tillage system. This occurs because the area in and near the crop’s root system is left undisturbed throughout the year. In a conventional tillage system the practice of turning up the soil and exposing plant roots helps limit their populations. There are a number of nematode species present in southeastern soils that can cause considerable yield loss to cotton, corn, wheat, peanuts and soybeans (Table 12.1). These economically significant nematode species can have particular geographic ranges, and they exhibit different preferences for plant hosts and soil textures. Soil sampling for nematode populations and understanding the visible and diagnostic symptoms of nematode damage are key steps to maintaining a successful plant-parasitic nematode management plan. Typically, a combination of management practices is used to keep nematode numbers below the economic threshold. The best options include equipment sanitation, resistant and tolerant crop varieties, crop rotations, cover crops and conservation tillage. Conservation tillage results in a greater diversity of soil organisms that compete with parasitic nematodes and reduce their populations. Nematicides are another important tool but are used only when necessary to limit the economic impact of nematode damage.

Download the tables from Chapter 12.