It started with curiosity. How does a fumigant, commonly used for nematode management in potato cropping systems, influence soil microbial communities?
To explore this question, scientists at Colorado State University and Oregon State University used high-throughput sequencing techniques to investigate changes in soil bacterial and fungal community structure in response to the application of 1,3-Dichloropropene (1,3-D) in Pacific Northwest potato production fields. Their research found that the fumigant had very minor effects.
1,3-D is an organic compound used as a pesticide to control nematodes (roundworms) that reduce the yields of many plants. Despite its widespread use, little is known about the fumigant’s effects on other organisms in soil. A recent paper published in the open access Phytobiomes Journal is one of the first to report on the effects of nematode management practice, specifically 1,3-D, on soil microflora.
“We found it interesting that only minor effects of 1,3-D were observed on both bacterial and fungal communities, suggesting that soil can be a robust ecosystem and fumigants may not have a long-term impact on the overall microbial community,” said researcher Kenneth Frost. The research also showed that the average efficacy of 1,3-D was estimated to be 98% across all nematodes studied, which included root lesion and stubby root nematodes.
As a result of this research, the authors suggest there may be a greater impact on microbial community from other agricultural practices, such as tillage, use of cover crops, irrigation, and precipitation, than fumigant application in potato cropping systems.
[Editor’s note: The authors report that:
We observed that posttreatment soils had higher bacterial and fungal richness and diversity than pretreatment soils, even in the pre- and post-control plots. This suggests that moderate disturbance such as incorporation of cover crop into the entire experimental plot, and the irrigation and precipitation that occurred prior to the post-soil sampling, has a greater impact on bacterial and fungal communities in this soil ecosystem than did fumigation.
There is still room for more studies of this nature, according to Frost, who says, “We think that investigating soil microbial community structure in response to different crop management strategies, including pesticide application, may eventually help farmers manage their communities in ways that will enhance crop health and productivity.”