With the help of extension specialists at NC State University, farmers in the Tarheel State are helping to reduce the size of the ozone hole over the South Pole. NC State staff are working with farmers to incorporate integrated pest management (IPM) strategies into their operations as they transition away from the toxic fumigant methyl bromide, which accounts for a large portion of ozone depleting halogens above Antarctica.
Nothing can replace the effectiveness of methyl bromide on a one-to-one basis, but IPM offers solutions by addressing insect, disease, and weed problems separately. The NC State working group experimented with drip and fumigant pesticides, soil improvement tactics, and covering the ground after planting and while fumigating. They focused on pest management in strawberry, tomatoes, and peppers. Although successful overall, results varied; drip irrigation proved effective with tomatoes and peppers; adding mustard meal before planting helped strawberry yield but was less effective for tomatoes; and vigorous rootstocks using grafted tomatoes suppressed bacterial wilt, Southern stem blight, and root knot nematodes and increased yield similar to or better than fumigants.
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