Soil hygiene is a key pillar for successful and sustainable crop production, particularly in high-value and intensive crops, where limited options for pest and disease control are available, especially against nematodes. Since its establishment in 2001, Certis Europe has been focused on IPM solutions and in 2004 launched the Certis CleanStart ™ programme, fully dedicated to soil pest management.
CleanStart is a unique and innovative soil pest management programme that puts the best technologies and professional expertise at your service, allowing you to achieve the best farming results in a safe and sustainable way. In line with IPM principles, CleanStart offers a combination of chemical, biological, physical and agronomic tools for soil disinfestation, resulting in a reduced need for other post-planting treatments and a reduced environmental impact. The programme combines and alternates chemistry having different modes of action with the use of biopesticides, soil solarisation, biofumigation, soil mulching, resistant varieties and/or rootstocks, etc.
From the very beginning of this concept, the CleanStart programme included the use of soil fumigants and other disinfectants for materials and/or greenhouses structures with the aim of starting crops in a ‘sanitised’ environment. Certis also aims to provide local distributors, applicators and end users with more services and always recommends a pre-disinfestation soil analysis and diagnosis, covering soil temperature, moisture content and the presence of organic matter, all factors that determine fumigant performance. In addition, the tests are extended to include the identification of key pests that may be harmful for the crop. All this information contributes to the decision on making an application or not, which type of product to use and the correct application method, considering the problems in that specific plot. This is important to avoid the unnecessary use of chemicals in line with IPM principles.
A combination of products and solutions for the management of soil problems is now a reality in the Southern European countries, particularly in protected crops. Fumigants, post-transplanting chemical nematicides, biopesticides, grafted plants, solarisation and biofumigation are frequently used in combined control strategies for soil pests. For example, solarisation and biofumigation for fruiting vegetables in Southern Spain are widely applied. It has been proved that a preceding biofumigation using plant debris, plus solarisation to assure high temperatures, are compatible with the subsequent application of soil fumigants such as DD to control nematodes (e.g. Meloidogyne spp. in tomato).
Over the past five years the CleanStart programme was applied successfully in different greenhouses for fruiting vegetables in Spain (Murcia and Almería respectively) and in Italy (Sicily, Campania and Lazio respectively).
Figure 1: Tomato greenhouse
Figure 2: CleanStart strategy to control Fusarium spp. in zucchini
CleanStart strategy Farm strategy
After years of working in disinfestation with combinations of chemical and biological products and other alternative solutions in the CleanStart programme, results have shown effective control of soil pests during the whole crop cycle, including interesting broad-spectrum activity and obtaining good yields and quality of production.
Technologies used in CleanStart programme
The number of products and solutions within the Certis’ portfolio to control soil-borne pathogens and nematodes has increased over the years along with the associated technical expertise within the company. The CleanStart portfolio of soil treatment products includes Basamid (dazomet), DD (1,3-dichloropropene), metam sodium, metam potassium, Mocap (ethoprophos), Jet 5 biocide (peracetic acid), as well as biological products such as Tusal (Trichoderma spp.), NemGuard (garlic extract) - only available in some countries, and other biopesticides under development. Dimethyl Disulfide (DMDS) will also be part of the Certis CleanStart portfolio in the future in two formulations: EC (94.1%) for drip irrigation in protected crops and open field, and AL (99.1%) for shank application in field crops. Accolade (the DMDS product brand) is already being used successfully under derogations in Italy (2015 and 2016) and commercial large-scale experimental permit in Spain (2016).
Figure 3: Personal protection equipment
Alongside the products, a pan-European fumigation stewardship programme has been developed to support sustainable soil fumigation practice, followed by appropriate measures to ensure safe use by minimising the impact of the product on the environment and human health. The Certis stewardship programme for fumigants considers the following points to be important:
· compulsory training for applicators (and workers) to apply the product safely for themselves, the surrounding residents and the environment including the cleaning of small spills and leaks;
· introduction of Best Management Practice to understand Good Agricultural Practice for soil fumigation in general terms (soil and weather conditions) as well as specific product related subjects and issues;
· development of specific plastic films based on TIF technology, training on the way to use best the films;
· compulsory regular machinery testing on compatibility, calibration and maintenance;
· infrastructure and instructions for safe disposal of empty packaging and used tarping.
In addition, it has worked to reduce the rate and number of applications without compromising efficiency and has also been working in partnership with specialist machinery companies to develop and improve the technology for fumigant application in line with stewardship requirements.
Successful soil pest management requires good knowledge of all the conditions determining efficacy i.e. pests, crops (cultivars and/or rootstocks), soil conditions, products or other technical solutions, appropriate application systems and/or machinery, etc. Their smart use in integrated strategies (product and solution combinations) is vital to guarantee sustainable crop protection in EU agriculture.
Certis will remain engaged in sustainable soil pest management and is continuously working to identify new local strategies, within the CleanStart programme, to protect crops from soil-borne pathogens.