Indexed on: 21 Dec '12Published on: 21 Dec '12Published in: Phytoparasitica
The application of organic amendments followed by solarization is a promising alternative to chemical disinfestation for the control of soilborne pathogens in protected crops. We assessed the effectiveness of the application of sugar beet vinasse, alone and in combination with fresh sheep manure, followed by solarization on (i) disease incidence of Meloidogyne incognita in protected pepper crops of southeast Spain and (ii) soil properties with potential as indicators of soil quality. When treatments were applied in summer, a 97% and 87% reduction in the galling index and percentage of galled plants, respectively, was observed in vinasse-amendment plots at the end of the crop season, compared with untreated controls. Treatments led to higher values of soil organic C, total N, total P and extractable K+, and lower values of soil pH. Values of enzyme activities (dehydrogenase, β-glucosidase, acid and alkaline phosphatase, arylsulfatase, urease), microbial biomass C, potentially mineralizable N, water soluble organic C and microbial functional diversity were higher in treated versus untreated soils. Positive correlations were found between enzyme activities and microbial biomass C. In general, no differences were observed between vinasse and vinasse+manure treatments. It was concluded that the application of sugar beet vinasse followed by solarization is a good alternative to methyl bromide for the control of M. incognita in protected pepper crops of southeast Spain, especially, but not exclusively, when carried out in summer. Additionally, treatments resulted in an improvement in soil quality, as reflected by the higher values of microbial biomass, activity and functional diversity.