Sustainability of strawberry nurseries and fruit production in relation to fumigation practices in Europe

N. de Tommaso, J.M. López Aranda, N. Greco, M. Saporiti, C. Maccarini, A. Myrta
Strawberry cultivation provides huge economic and social benefit to several regions of Europe. Soil-borne pests of strawberry (i.e., nematodes, soil-borne pathogens and weeds, in particular yellow nutsedge) are many and very severe. Therefore, a literature review and interviews were conducted to evaluate the role of soil fumigation, compared with other soil-pest control means, on the sustainability of strawberry nurseries and fruit production in Europe. Analysis summarized the results of the scientific literature since 1995 (295 studies for fruit production and 63 for strawberry nursery production) to calculate efficacy and yield increases when different soil-borne pest control means were adopted. This literature information was complemented by that derived from an extensive survey amongst farmers, technical advisors and experts in Spain, Italy and France (87 interviews). Based on this information and on statistical data from different international sources, the impact of soil fumigation on the socio-economics of strawberry crops was also estimated. When fumigation was used, the estimated yield increases ranged from 43 to 161% in nurseries and from 24 to 60% in fruit production. For crops and countries analysed (Spain, Italy, France and Belgium), because of the severe soil-borne pest pressure, substitution of chemical fumigation with available alternatives would result in economic loss of more than € 270 million year‑1 and in potential job losses for 36,000 people (11,000 employees and 25,000 seasonal). In most cases, cultivation of strawberry would be discontinued because it would not be sustainable. Traditional fumigants and a new one (dimethyl disulfide) always performed better than the alternative control methods. The study clearly shows the need of a very effective chemical fumigation for the control of different soil-borne pests to guarantee a sustainable strawberry fruit and transplant production.
de Tommaso, N., López Aranda, J.M., Greco, N., Saporiti, M., Maccarini, C. and Myrta, A. (2021). Sustainability of strawberry nurseries and fruit production in relation to fumigation practices in Europe. Acta Hortic. 1309, 693-700
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2021.1309.100
strawberry fruit, strawberry runners, control, fumigants, nematodes, soil pathogens, weeds

Acta Horticulturae