On 16 February, Soil Wealth ICP team member Doris Blaesing attended the Nutrien Ag Solutions South-East Agronomy Conference in Melbourne to present on soil borne disease management in vegetable crops. The conference spanned two days with three presentation streams focusing on horticulture, pasture and broadacre systems.

The horticulture program was attended by Nutrien agronomists from Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania, as well as representatives from other states. It was a fantastic opportunity to hear about new products being brought to the market, both biological and synthetic, as well as hearing the latest about pest and disease management, resistance management and soil health.

Soil health tips for agronomists

Doris spoke on the importance of soil health in managing soil borne diseases, and the practices that growers can use to promote healthier soils and avoid disease risks. She highlighted several factors that can encourage proliferation of soil borne diseases including soil compaction, lack of rotation, unsuitable nutrition management, and poor farm and crop hygiene (biosecurity).

Doris’ presentation then focused on simple practices that agronomists can help producers to implement, such as:

  • Considering the ‘common’ soil borne diseases that can affect multiple vegetable crops in rotation planning
  • Use of SARDI soil DNA testing and water testing to understand disease risks
  • Using disease free water and good irrigation management
  • Considering biofumigation and other cover crops for disease suppression
  • Ensuring good surface and rootzone drainage
  • Correct cultivar selection and consideration of tolerant or resistant cultivars
  • Microclimate manipulation through drip irrigation, row direction, spacing and canopy structure
  • Minimising soil, water and equipment movement from infested to clean sites, and implementing hygiene and sanitation practices.

The presentation was well received with agronomists appreciating the variety of soil borne diseases discussed across vegetable, onion and potato crops.

Doris highlighted the benefit of using multiple demonstrations sites and case studies to provide evidence and tools for agronomists to develop a greater understanding of soil borne disease management practices.

For more information please contact Doris Blaesing at  dorisb@rmcg.com.au .

You can also access the Soil Wealth ICP resources below: