California funds 3 soil fumigant alternative studies

06/18/2014 05:00:00 PM
Vicky Boyd

The California Department of Pesticide Regulation wants to find less toxic alternatives to soil fumigation.The California Department of Pesticide Regulation has awarded three grants totaling nearly $500,000 to find less toxic alternatives to soil fumigants.

• The California Strawberry Commission will receive $298,472 to improve the effectiveness of ASD, or anaerobic soil disinfestation.

ASD involves feeding naturally occurring soilborne bacteria, saturating the soil with water, then covering it with a plastic tarp to promote plant residue decomposition without oxygen.

The project will help determine if the ASD process is improved by adding small amounts of fumigant to it.

• University of California Cooperative Extension in Merced County will receive $74,384 to look at nematode control in pistachios and whether the nut can be grown economically without fumigation on sandy soils.

As part of the project, researchers will look at whether certain varieties resist nematode damage more so than others.

• UC Extension in Merced County also will receive $108,433 to examine whether healthy almond orchards can be grown using reduced-rate fumigation or by planting varieties resistant to nematode and disease damage.

Most almond orchards are first fumigated before planting.

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