Use of Biocontrol Organisms and Compost Amendments for Improved Control of Soilborne Diseases and Increased Potato Production

Research paper by Robert P. Larkin, Stellos Tavantzis

Indexed on: 14 Feb '13Published on: 14 Feb '13Published in: American Journal of Potato Research


Soilborne potato diseases are persistent problems in potato production and alternative management practices are needed. In this research, biocontrol agents (Bacillus subtilis GB03 and Rhizoctonia solani hypovirulent isolate Rhs1A1) and compost amendments (from different source material), were evaluated alone and in combination, for their potential to reduce soilborne diseases and increase tuber yield over three field seasons in Maine. Both biocontrol organisms reduced multiple soilborne diseases, stem and stolon canker by 20–38 %, black scurf by 30–58 %, and common scab by 10–34 % relative to the nontreated control treatment, and the combination treatment of both biocontrol organisms together provided nominally better control than individual treatments. However, biocontrol treatments had no direct effect on tuber yield. Compost amendments from different sources all increased total and marketable tuber yield substantially (11–37 % and 17–51 %, respectively) relative to nontreated controls. However, except for some reduction of Rhizoctonia canker, compost amendments did not reduce soilborne diseases (black scurf and commons scab) in any year, and resulted in increased levels of common scab in some years (20–45 % increase). The combination compost-biocontrol treatment, although did not perform significantly better than individual component treatments, still provided indications of combined beneficial effects from both component treatments. This research demonstrated the usefulness of these approaches and combinations as additional options for reduction of soilborne diseases and increased tuber yield and can be implemented for enhanced sustainability and productivity in potato production systems.