This blog talks about the importance of sanitation in agriculture and the methods to practice field sanitation in the most suitable ways.
Field sanitation is one of the most crucial methods for managing pests and diseases. Clearing up crop residues as soon as possible after harvest is one of the best things growers can do for themselves and their communities. Sanitation is a crucial component of integrated pest management and should be regarded as an effective preventative measure against many pest and disease issues that affect crops. Sanitation includes any action that removes or significantly reduces the amount of pathogen inoculum, pests, or weed seeds present to lessen or completely eradicate pest and disease challenges.
Why should field sanitation be practiced?
- Plants act as hosts for disease and pests:
Pests and diseases on a vegetable crop may persist on stray plants (crop plants that come up on their own after the main crop has been harvested). These stray plants ought to be removed. The same holds for some weeds, which host various diseases and pests. When a new crop is planted and an old, diseased, or pest-infested crop is still nearby, the pests or diseases will likely transfer to the new crop.
Example: Spider mites will travel to newly planted crops if they are present. They will transfer onto the new crop if the wind hits the old-infested crop. Get rid of the previous crop residues.
- Farm equipment can also spread disease and pests:
Farm equipment gets infected when they touch contaminated soil, plant material, or infested rooting media. Before using them at another site, every piece of equipment (mechanical pruners, trowels, shovels, fertiliser dispersers, motorised shears, tagging machines, etc.) that may have been exposed to pathogens should be cleaned or disinfected thoroughly.
Since cutting instruments can easily pick up and transfer pathogen propagules from affected or diseased plants to healthy plants, contamination of cutting tools should be a persistent worry. Shovels and sand trowels should also be sterilized to avoid bringing infections into an uncontaminated area.
To control most diseases and pests, it is crucial and highly effective for farmers to adopt field cleanliness. It entails clearing the field of weeds, pest infestations, and disease sources.
Role of sanitation in the prevention of diseases and pests
- The classic disease triangle comprises three essential elements: a susceptible plant, a virulent pathogen, and a conducive environment.
- By waging direct war against the pathogen, sanitation aims to eliminate the second element of the disease triangle.
- Sanitation can be carried out at various stages of production to accomplish a number of objectives, including:
- preventing the introduction of pathogen propagules into a production facility,
- eliminating pathogen propagules from future production areas, and
- removing sources of propagules from active production areas significantly slows disease spread.
- Sanitation procedures include
- producing clean plant material (e.g., through chemical or thermal treatment or plant indexing),
- sanitizing production environments, tools, and equipment (e.g., by throwing away contaminated plant tissues),
- washing, and applying disinfectants, fungicides, and bactericides),
- and utilizing barriers to prevent access to particular areas of a facility (e.g., weed-free zones, distance, wash stations, and workflow patterns)
- Sanitation is a tried-and-true disease management technique in the production of horticultural crops. It can be one of the most effective preventative treatments since it can completely eradicate pathogens at key locations.
Methods to practice field sanitation
- Weed management- In the field, sanitation must be maintained before, throughout, and after the growing season. Adjust your weed management strategy before you plant. Numerous weeds serve as known reservoirs for insects and plant pathogens. You can lower disease and vector populations by managing weed populations in your fields.
- Wash dirt from farm equipment and brush the dirt from shoes as well. These procedures are particularly crucial for stopping the spread of soilborne diseases such as Sclerotinia sclerotiorum (the cause of white mould), Phytophthora capsici, Verticillium dalhiae, and several Fusarium species. A power washer is an essential gear in the fight against these diseases. Equipment such as ploughs, discs, cultivators, and other tools should be power washed in between fields.
- When plants are wet, avoid working in the fields. This method reduces the transfer of pathogens from diseased to healthy plants. For instance, this strategy is critical for tomato bacterial infections like spot, speck, and canker, which can be difficult to manage in the field.
- Get rid of any infected plants or plant components. As soon as symptoms show, remove infected material from fields and gather, bag, and destroy it. The amount of pathogen inoculum that can spread into healthy plant parts can be decreased by clearing the field of contaminated fruit and plant debris. Cull piles should be located far from crop fields and streams and, if possible, covered with a plastic trap to hasten microbial decomposition and prevent the spread of disease spores.
- Pick only healthy produce with care during harvest to prevent mechanical damage to the fruit or other plant parts. Microorganisms that can degrade fruit quality while in transit or storage can enter damaged fruit through minor cuts or bruises (short or long-term).
- When using tools, keep them clean and frequently disinfect blades, shears, and other harvesting equipment. To do this, wash the instruments in soapy water and then dip them in 70% ethanol or other chemicals or wipe it with these chemicals.
Basic field hygiene practices
Washing your hands frequently and keeping your tools clean will reduce the transfer of bacteria and viruses that cause disease from plant to plant. Provide sinks with soap and clean water for washing hands. Proper hand washing is essential to reduce the spread of plant pathogens during harvest. For instance, if poor hand washing after cigarette smoking occurs, tobacco mosaic virus (TMV) can spread to tomatoes and peppers. This tobacco virus can be found on dry tobacco used in cigarettes and is quite stable.
How can Fasal assist?
- Fasal technology alerts farmers regarding the proper field practices.
- The Fasal system ensures crops’ overall health and helps farmers get better yields.
- The Fasal system also warns farmers of insect or disease infestations in their fields, enabling them to take the necessary precautions for their crops.
Fasal technology helps farmers breathe easily, knowing that their crops are in good hands.
We would love to talk to you and help you understand more about Fasal.