Spudman February 2023 - 15

Make the first - and biggest -
step toward sustainability
Potato farmers today are pushing hard for sustainability.
Regenerative, soil-health promoting practices like reduced tillage,
cover cropping, and planting into more residue to reduce erosion
are all increasingly mainstream. Those are important changes,
since enhancing sustainability is key to agriculture's longevity
on environmental, economic and societal fronts. But, are many
farmers still missing one of the biggest opportunities to make a
giant leap towards sustainability?
Sustainable production is an integrated system of responsible
practices that aims to meet today's food, feed, fiber and
other needs while ensuring production is possible tomorrow
too. Sustainability cannot be only about prioritizing the
environment at the expense of productivity. In fact, when it
comes to feeding our world, one of the most critical parts of
effective sustainability is maximizing productivity per acre.
More productive land translates to less crop inputs and fewer
equipment hours per unit of crop produced and less new land
that has to be brought into production.
In most potato fields, the factor that restricts productivity -
and therefore sustainability - is soil-borne pests and diseases.
Potato farmers have limited means to fight back:
They can lengthen rotation. However, longer rotation
means decreasing the efficiency of existing farmland, which
consequently means having to utilize more land. In most cases,
the only land to expand into that isn't already under production
is forest, prairie grassland, or desert: the valuable native lands
and ecosystems that, once lost, are lost for good.
Alternatively, farmers can accept less and/or lower quality
production, increasing their environmental footprint per unit
produced. Unfortunately, this is the most common outcome and
entirely counter to sustainability.
There is another option.
Chloropicrin (the active ingredient in Strike) is a selective
soil fumigant that effectively manages a wide variety of soilborne
diseases including early die complex (verticillium and
lesion nematode), rhizoctonia, black dot, common scab, and
some nematodes. TELONE™ is a selective insecticidal fumigant
that manages key pests including root-knot, lesion, stubby-root,
dagger, ring and cyst nematodes. Both products - which can
be applied individually, as blends, or co-applied - boost tired,
overworked, diseased soils, producing more yield and ultimately
more profit.
Chloropicrin suppresses disease in two distinct but
complimentary ways. The first avenue of management is direct
suppression: the molecule penetrates the bacterium or fungal
pathogen and kills the organism.
The second form of management is indirect: chloropicrin
promotes the population of beneficial microbes called
saprophytes that predate on the overwintering structures of
disease pathogens. Chloropicrin does not sterilize the soil.
Rather, it is a highly targeted input that manages cropinhibiting
invaders while simultaneously supporting diverse,
healthy, productive soils.
" Chloropicrin offers an initial knockdown of disease
via chemical control and then a secondary knockdown by
ADVERTISEMENT | © 2023 TriCal Group, Inc.
enhancing the biology of the soil. More saprophytes mean
better disease management. Both play an important role in
chloropicrin's efficacy, " says Chad Hutchinson, global director
of potato research and market support for TriCal Group.
More saprophytes also mean generally healthier soil.
Saprophytes feed on organic matter, thereby recycling the
macro- and micronutrients that plant growth depends on.
Saprophytes support soil structure and water permeability and
form the basis of the complex ecosystem critical to healthy,
functional soil. They also form tight, symbiotic relationships
with plant roots.
" Following an application of chloropicrin, we see an
immediate flush of saprophytes in the soil. Saprophyte
populations, especially bacterium like Bacillus and even fungi
like Trichoderma, can expand to the point in well-managed soil
that they'll encase plant roots. The plant provides the microbes
with sugars, the microbes deliver critical nutrients directly
to the root and the farmer gets to harvest a bigger crop, " says
Hutchinson says that, while seemingly everyone wants to be
sustainable, actually achieving meaningful sustainability is an
uphill battle unless a production system starts with soil-borne
disease management.
" If you can't get a handle on soil-borne pests and disease,
the chances of being able to hit any sustainability targets
is much more difficult, " says Hutchinson. " There's a big
misunderstanding in the marketplace that soil fumigation is
environmentally negative. In reality, fumigation with products
that promote soil health and productivity is a great step towards
sustainability. "
Hutchinson agrees that it can be challenging for some to
move past what he calls the " philosophical hump " that slows
adoption of new-generation fumigation.
" Education is so important. Green and sustainable shouldn't
necessarily mean opting to use no chemicals. It should mean
using the right inputs at the right time and in the right
way to achieve the biggest impacts to both productivity and
sustainability, " he says.
" As farmers realize that fumigation can promote the good
and manage the bad at the same time - our industry can make
the steps forward that feeding the world requires. "
Strike is a Federally Restricted Use Pesticide. TELONE™ is a Trademark
of the Dow Chemical Company ( " Dow " ) or an affiliated company
of Dow, used under license. TELONE™ is a federally Restricted Use
Pesticide. Always read and follow label directions.

Spudman February 2023

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