Fw: Compost, Mycorrhize Alternative to Methyl Bromide in Strawbe

sal sals at rain.org
Fri Mar 31 21:18:46 EST 2000

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Steve Diver" <steved at ncatark.uark.edu>
To: "sal" <sals at rain.org>
Cc: <sanet-mg at cals.ncsu.edu>
Sent: Friday, March 31, 2000 1:24 PM
Subject: Re: Compost, Mycorrhize Alternative to Methyl Bromide in Strawbe

> Sal wrote: 
> > This is not the way I heard it. what happen?
> > 
> > http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/np/mba/jan97/calstraw.htm
> Sal noticed that the story on alternatives to methyl bromide in 
> California strawberry production -- as summarized in the USDA 
> article from January 1997 -- don't match with the results that have 
> been generated in following years. 
> Essentially, Sal is correct in pointing out a time warp between this 
> early article from USDA, and the truly amazing results which 
> have been generated in proceeeding years.  I was there on tour 
> through the fields near Santa Maria with Frank Sances and Elaine 
> Ingham in '95, and I have followed this story for many years. 
> What happened is that early results were dissapointing.  The first 
> batch of compost wasn't too good.  One of the California ag 
> consultants said don't use this low quality compost, but that was 
> what was available.  Thus, early results on compost plots were poor. 
> But then the Luebke family from Austria came to California and did 
> their Humus Management seminar and taught the Controlled Microbial 
> Composting classes and some of the innovative farmers started making 
> high quality compost.  The list of progressive California farmers 
> and crop advisors getting into CMC compost is impressive.  That's a 
> long story.  But to summarize the impact think of compost technology 
> in the United States Before-the-Luebkes and After-the-Luebkes.  The 
> impact is still reverberating in places like Georgia where CMC-based 
> compost teas have been show to *arrest* certain diseases on peppers 
> universally considered fatal in the vegetable industry.  
> [Note :  I can also point to many other innovative compost and 
> humus management systems and the people behind them, so please don't 
> have a belly fit just because I have listed one system.  But in this 
> instance the research is directly tied to the CMC compost process 
> which enabled this research to propell forward.  The fact remains 
> certain innovations are taking place in organics and they are people, 
> concept, management, and product driven].
> With access to CMC compost, which is known to have well humified 
> organic matter and high quantities of a diverse set of microbes 
> present, Sances and Ingham went towards a compost-based potting 
> mix that was additionally inoculated with mycorrhizae fungi.  
> The data resulting from the following years, when these strawberry 
> plugs with high quality compost and mycorrhizae fungi were added 
> as treatments, was outstanding.  The first year strawberry plugs were 
> equivalent in yield to methyl bromide treated plots.  With these 
> results, proof is now in hand to show a shift in the soil foodweb can 
> serve as an alternative to a toxic soil fumigant like methyl bromide 
> in commercial strawberry production.  In proceeding years, the data 
> has gotten better and better.  Ingham reported these additional 
> results at the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Conference in Georgia 
> just this past January.  Sances and Ingham will publish these results 
> in a journal, one day, but I don't think journal articles are a 
> priority for either pioneer who are very busy working with farmers 
> and other ag people runing as fast as they can to keep up with the 
> biological farming revolution underway on many, many farms that are 
> conventional-now-but-rapidly-going-biological.   
> The data that shows equivalent yields between compost-mycorrhize 
> amended strawberry plugs versus methyl bromide was published in: 
> 1996 Annual International Research Conference on Methyl Bromide 
> Alternatives and Emissions Reductions, proceedings of a conference 
> held November 4-6, 1996 in Orlando, Florida.
> I should add that the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food 
> Systems at University of  California-Santa Cruz is another place 
> where organic strawberry production has been underway for some years, 
> again with good results based on the use of compost and other 
> soil-health building practices.   This is the organization that used 
> to be called the Agroecology Program.  It is a world class source of 
> education and research on biodiversity, agroecology, biointensive 
> gardening, and organic farming.  
> Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems 
> University of  California, Santa Cruz
> http://zzyx.ucsc.edu/casfs/
> And by the way, there is a superb website on agroecology and 
> biodiversity at the following web link.  It is a joint effort of the 
> the Center above located at UC-Santa Cruz (Stephen Gleissman and 
> associates), as well as by Miguel Altieri and associates at 
> UC-Berkeley.  I just love this website!  
> Agroecology
> http://www.agroecology.org/
> Perhaps our friends at UC-SAREP have more results to share on 
> organic strawberry production.  That's another website worth 
> listing, it is chock full of incredibly useful articles, 
> publications, and databases supporting organic and sustainable 
> farming. 
> UC Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program
> http://www.sarep.ucdavis.edu/
> And secondly, I should add the USDA website on Methyl Bromide 
> Alternatives is a great source of information.  It attempts to 
> summarize some useful cultural, microbial, and biological practices 
> underway to achieve natural disease and nematode control *without* 
> the use of toxic soil fumigants.  That is why I was so impressed in 
> October '97 to post some of these results on Sanet.  
> Methyl Bromide Alternatives On-Line Newsletter 
> http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/np/mba/mebrhp.htm 
> http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/mb/mebrweb.htm
> Steve Diver

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