Soil Nematode Communities as Influenced by Cover Crops, with a Focus on Brassicaceae
Gruver, Lisa Stocking
Weil, Ray R.
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The effect of brassicaceous cover crops (Brassica juncea/<em>Sinapis alba, B. napus, and Raphanus sativus) on plant-parasitic and free-living soil nematode communities, in grain agroecosystems, was evaluated in three experiments, at two sites in Maryland. Brassicaceous cover crops alone did not suppress plant-parasitic nematodes, however when combined with rye (Secale cereale) or clover (Trifolium incarnatum), juvenile (J2) Heterodera glycines populations were lower in June, soybean yields were higher, or free-living nematode abundance was higher. Indices of free-living nematode community structure suggested that winter-kill of N-rich radishes activated the bacterivore community in early spring resulting in high populations of bacterivore dauer larvae and high community structure by summer. In contrast, nematode communities in spring-terminated rapeseed and rye plots had high abundances of fungivore nematodes and a plant associate/fungal feeder, Coslenchus. Brassicaceous cover crops in Maryland grain rotations may be more useful for managing soil ecology than for biofumigation of plant-parasitic nematodes.