[Compostteas] Re: Sclerotinia control

Soil Foodweb, Inc. info at soilfoodweb.com
Wed Jul 3 11:22:07 EDT 2002

This is with regards to the thread about suppressing or preventing fungal
diseases, specifically sclerotinia.

We have not done assessment of reduction of the specific organisms causing
sclerotinia in any study, which is the research needed to be able to say control
occurred.  Each disease orgnaisms has tp be studied in this fashion to satisfy
scientific criteria.  There are how many disease organisms out there?  So,
haven't gotten around to all of them.
Send money, so we can do all of them, ok?  All right, just a little humor
Back to being serious -

The paradigm is that use of toxic chemicals and salts - better known as
inorganic fertilizer - slowly but surely kills off the organisms that would
out-compete, inhibit and consume the diseases.  Thus, over time, disease
organisms are selected in the current conventional chemical system.  In order to
reverse this condition, you have to put back into the system the
disease-combating organisms.

The organisms that perform disease-suppression or prevention are:  Fungal and
bacterial species that compete for foods, produce inhibitory compounds, take up
space, physically prevent diseases from reaching a root, maintain soil structure
so the soil stays as aerobic as possible, protozoa which consume the
disease-organisms and keep proper nutrient availability cycling for the plants,
and nematodes and microarthropods which form strucutre as well as consume the
disease-causing orgaaisms.

It is not a simple one-single antibiotic to suppress one single group of
organisms paradigm.  Which mechanism is operating to prevent the disease from
being able to grow?  One or ten different mechanisms?  Which competitive
organisms is the one suppressing the disease?  It depends on temperature,
moisture, aeration, nutrient availability, etc., etc., etc.

Is this impossibly complex?  To understand every interaction going on, yes,
impossibly complex.  But guess what?  You don't have to know every interaqction
going on.  Just like you don't have to know how explosive compression works to
make your car run, you don't have to know every interaction going on to
understand that you don't have disease.

What do we have to know?  That we have put into the soil, onto the leaf surface
the entire set of suppressive organisms that might be needed by the plant.  Let
the plant then feed the organisms required to suppress disease.  Some help may
be needed over time, because we humans keep killing things through the smog, air
pollution, pesticide drift, and other toxics we put into the air, the water, the

If we keep killing them, we have to keep putting the good guys back. and we have
to feed them to help them overcome the nasty environment we keep sticking them
into, and expecting them to do their job.  Some extra food would be a good idea,
don't you think?

Elaine Ingham
President, Soil Foodweb Inc.
Affiliate Faculty, Southern Cross University, Lismore, NSW

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