Mustard in the vineyard


Yep it seems that stuff we love to eat with hot dogs, is one of a few natural sources of Brassica plants that release compounds that suppress pests and pathogens.

At a recent Symposium, researchers, growers and Industry specialists from 22 countries shared the latest research into the use of Brassica species, such as mustard, radish, or rapeseed, to manage soil-borne pests and weeds – a technique known as biofumigation.

The conference convenor, Australian CSIRO’s Dr John Kirkegaard, says "The compounds, which most people would recognise as the ‘hot’ flavour in mustard or horseradish, are released in soil by green-manuring, soil-borne pests and pathogens can be suppressed and the yields of solanaceous vegetables such as potatoes, tomatoes and eggplants can be increased by up to 40 per cent in some cases.

“The technique is relevant to developed countries seeking
alternatives to banned synthetic pesticides such as methyl-bromide, as
well as poor farmers in developing countries who often have few
alternatives for controlling serious diseases in their crops,” Dr
Kirkegaard says.

“It can provide economic and social benefits, as improved crop
yields lead to increased incomes, as well as a range of environmental
and health benefits from a reduced reliance on fumigants and

Using brassicas to manage soil-borne pests is not new, but modern
science is providing new insights and techniques to enhance the
reliability of the effect as part of an integrated pest control
strategy. Brassicas can also provide other benefits to the soil as
green manures.   

Australian scientists are at the forefront of this area of research,
in projects on tropical vegetable production systems in north
Queensland and the Philippines, supported by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), and on temperate southern Australian vegetable production, supported by Horticulture Australia Limited (HAL) using voluntary contributions from industry and matched funding from the Australian Government.

The Symposium consisted of three days of scientific and Industry
presentations designed to stimulate discussions about the underpinning
science, as well as the practical application of biofumigation
technology in Australia and worldwide. 

“The Symposium was an excellent opportunity to draw together the
latest research on the subject from around the globe,” Dr Kirkegaard



Source CSIRO Australia (2008, July 21). Organic Pest Control: Mustard — Hot Stuff For Natural Pest Control

image credit ah zut

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