Suppression of Septoria Leaf Spot Disease of Tomato Using Aerated Compost Tea

in HortScience

Compost teas, made using an aerated brewing process, have been reported to have potential for controlling a range of plant diseases and improving crop health. Septoria leaf spot of tomato, caused by the fungus Septoria lycopersici, is a common and destructive disease of tomato in Kansas. A field trial was conducted at Wichita, Kansas during Summer 2003 to evaluate the potential of pre-plant compost, and compost tea applied as a foliar spray or through drip fertigation, to control Septoria leaf spot of tomato. The experimental design included three factors: Pre-plant application of 13N-13P-13K or vermicompost; fertigation with CaNO3 or compost tea; and foliar spray with compost tea, fungicide (Dithane) or water. A split plot design was used with fertigation treatments as main plots and the other two factors as sub-plots. There were 3 replications. Tomato cultivar Merced was used and individual plots consisted of 5 plants grown on beds covered with red plastic mulch and supported by stake and weave system. Aerated compost tea was brewed weekly using a vermicompost-based recipe including alfalfa pellets, molasses, humic acid, fish emulsion and yucca extract and applied to plots starting 2 weeks after transplanting. Disease incidence and severity were recorded weekly for 3 weeks following the appearance of disease. Plots were harvested twice weekly and counts of No. 1, No 2 and cull grade tomatoes were recorded. There were no effects of pre-plant or fertigation treatments on Septoria leaf spot disease, but there was a significant effect due to foliar sprays, with mean severity of compost-tea-sprayed plots (26.3%) and fungicide-sprayed plots (31.9%) significantly lower than water-sprayed plots (45.9%) at trial termination.

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