Better Understanding of Nematodes in Nova Scotia
Plant parasitic nematodes are microscopic worms found in soil that feed on the roots of plants. Nematodes can cause significant damage to plants directly through feeding and can create wounds that allow for soilborne diseases to infect the plant.
In recent years, with the phasing out of certain chemical controls, nematodes have become an increasing issue within the Nova Scotia agriculture industry. Compounding the issue is that there is limited current research on nematodes in this region.
Based on the challenges surrounding nematodes and the threat that they pose to industry, the Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture funded a multi-year project to:
- identify the geographical distribution of nematodes throughout Nova Scotia
- trial new management practices on apple, strawberry, and carrot crops
- recommend effective mitigation strategies for Nova Scotia producers
In 2021-22, soil sampling was performed at 13 farms throughout Nova Scotia to identify plant parasitic nematode species that are present. Extraction and molecular identification protocols were also developed at Perennia’s Plant Health Lab, which relocated to the Huestis Innovation Pavilion at Acadia University in June. From the 13 soil samples collected, 8,115 nematodes were extracted, of which 127 were picked for further molecular identification. Nematode identification work is still being completed by the Perennia Plant Health lab, but protocol development was successful for both the extraction and molecular identification procedures.
Management trials were conducted to assess the impact of strategies to reduce the population of plant parasitic nematodes to manageable levels in one vegetable field, one strawberry field, and one pre-plant orchard block. The focus of the research is on pre-planting cover crops and post-planting chemical treatments. Assessments included nematode soil samples, and cover crop evaluation by drone footage and biomass sampling.
Local resources will be developed for farmers on how to manage nematodes and ultimately improve overall soil health.