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Impact of Composts on Disease Incidence in Vegetable Systems 1997

Project Leader: Anusuya Rangarajan

Objectives:

1. Determine efficacy of two commercially available, manure-based compost products for suppression of soilborne diseases incited by Pythium and Rhizoctonia in cucumber, beet and radish.

2. Determine the degree of disease suppressiveness in fields that received compost applications in 1996 and will be planted to sweet corn, beet and snap bean in 1997.

3. Determine changes in rhizosphere microbial activity during the growing season after application of a low rate of compost (5 T/A) to sweet corn, beet and bean crops.

Results:

Two of the tested composts enhanced plant emergence rates and growth, particularly if microbial activity was intact (non-sterilized). There was some evidence of residual effect of another of the composts on disease incidence and severity one year after application. Recent compost application increased soil microbial activity and ammonium nitrogen in the top two inches of soil. However, there were no significant differences in microbial activity between soils composted in 1996 only and the no-compost control treatment.