Cover Crops like Sunn Hemp Boost Beneficial Nematodes

By Marisol Quintanilla-Tornel Speical to the Star-Advertiser | Honolulu Star - Advertiser, November 6, 2016 | Go to article overview

Cover Crops like Sunn Hemp Boost Beneficial Nematodes


Marisol Quintanilla-Tornel Speical to the Star-Advertiser, Honolulu Star - Advertiser


Nematodes are microscopic roundworms, and they are abundant and diverse in soil ecosystems. Although plant-parasitic nematodes are considered pests when they feed on our crops, there are also many types of nematodes that are beneficial. They are predators of other nematodes, feed on fungi or bacteria, or are omnivores.

Some of the most common parasitic nematodes are root knot nematodes and reniform nematodes. There are several strategies that help to control these serious pests -- the most important is to keep from introducing them to your soil by making sure you do not move soil or infested plants. Unfortunately, much of Hawaii's agricultural fields and gardens is already infested.

There are organisms that control nematodes, such as nematode-trapping fungi, bacteria and predator nematodes. You can also control the infestation by increasing soil health by using compost, cover crops, manure and keeping the soil covered with mulch.

Sunn hemp (Crotalaria juncea L.) is a leguminous cover crop that grows well in the tropics. It provides the soil with organic matter and nutrients, its residues act as a mulch and it has parasitic nematode-reducing properties when incorporated into the soil. …

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Cover Crops like Sunn Hemp Boost Beneficial Nematodes
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