Crop decline caused by soil borne fungal pathogens affects specialized cropping systems such as fruit trees and strawberry. A study was carried out to investigate the effectiveness of pre-plant application of waste-derived biomasses in strawberry (Fragaria
) to reduce that phenomenon. A field experiment was carried out in an alpine strawberry specialized valley in South Tyrol (Italy), in a long term cultivated field selected for yield reduction over recent years. In July 2018, one month before strawberry transplanting, a field experiment with four soil treatments was set up: anaerobic digestate (solid fraction) of liquid manure, compost from anaerobic digestate of organic fraction of municipal solid waste (OFMSW), untreated control and Dazomet as chemical control. Plants were grown for two cycles (2019 and 2020). Dazomet always gave a significant (over 50%) increase in marketable yield per plant in both the years, anaerobic digestates did not improve strawberry production; compost from OFMSW gave phytotoxic effects in the first year, but improved strawberry yield like Dazomet in the second. Changes of rhizosphere bacterial populations and difference in root pathogen abundance, especially that of Dactylonectria torresensis
, were correlated to the crop response to treatments. Findings suggest that waste-derived biomasses are a promising eco-friendly option for counteracting strawberry yield decline. Their positive impact was mostly linked to functional improvements induced by microbial variations. However, the use of such organic amendment requires careful evaluation of composition, doses and above all application times to reduce phytotoxic effects that in some cases can occur in the first months after application.
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