Sustainability of European vegetable and strawberry production in relation to fumigation practices in the EU

N. Greco, J.M. López Aranda, M. Saporiti, C. Maccarini, N. de Tommaso, A. Myrta
Investigations were conducted to ascertain the role of soil fumigation compared with other control means on the production sustainability of vegetables and strawberry in Europe. Three representative cases have been analysed: i) fruiting vegetables under protected conditions, ii) carrots, and iii) strawberries, both in nurseries and for fruit production. The study analysed the results of the scientific literature since 1995 (586 studies) to calculate efficacy and yield increases when different soil-borne pest (nematodes) control means are adopted. This information was complemented with that derived from an extensive survey amongst farmers, technical advisors, producer organizations, and experts in Spain (307 interviews), Italy (192), and France (84). Based on this information and on statistical data from different sources, the impact of soil fumigation on the socio-economics of the mentioned crops was also estimated. In soil highly infested with nematodes, the best chemical fumigants, 1,3-dichloropropene (1,3-D) and dimethyl disulfide (DMDS) reduced root crop infestation by 70.6-74.3% in protected crops and by 56.3-68.9% in carrot. The estimated yield increases were 289-336% for protected crops, about 500% for carrot, and that of strawberry affected by 'tired-soil complex' of 43-161% in nurseries and 24-60% for fruit production. For crops and countries analysed, because of the severe pest pressure, substitution of chemical fumigation with available alternatives would mean an economic loss of more than €1.2 billion and a potential loss of jobs for 77,000 people (25,000 employees and 52,000 seasonal workers). In most cases, cultivation of these crops would be discontinued because they would not be sustainable. The new fumigant, DMDS performed as well as or even better than the best reference fumigants in controlling nematodes. The study clearly shows the need for very effective chemical fumigation for the control of different soil-borne plant pathogens and for crop sustainability.
Greco, N., Aranda, J.M. López, Saporiti, M., Maccarini, C., de Tommaso, N. and Myrta, A. (2020). Sustainability of European vegetable and strawberry production in relation to fumigation practices in the EU. Acta Hortic. 1270, 203-210
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2020.1270.24
tomato, pepper, cucurbits, strawberry fruit and nursery, carrot, soil fumigants, DMDS

Acta Horticulturae