Biological wastes as plant growth substrate amendments

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Rafferty, Susan M.
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University College Cork
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Globally, agriculture is being intensified with mechanization and increased use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. There has been a scaling up of production to satisfy the demands of supermarket distribution. Problems associated with intensification of production, trade globalisation and a larger market demand for greater volumes of fresh produce, include consumers' concern about pesticide residues and leaching of nutrients and pesticides into the environment, as well as increases in the transmission of human food-poisoning pathogens on raw vegetables and in fruit juices. The first part of this research was concerned with the evaluation of a biological control strategy for soil-borne pathogens, these are difficult to eliminate and the chemicals of which the most effective fumigants e.g. methyl bromide, are being withdrawn form use. Chitin-containing crustaceans shellfish waste was investigated as a selective growth substrate amendment in the field, in glasshouse and in storage trials against Sclerotinia disease of Helianthus tuberosus, Phytophthora fragariae disease of Fragaria vesca and Fusarium disease of Dianthus. Results showed that addition to shellfish waste stimulated substrate microbial populations and lytic activity and induced plant defense proteins, namely chitinases and cellulases. Protective effects were seen in all crop models but the results indicate that further trials are required to confirm long-term efficacy. The second part of the research investigated the persistence of enteric bacteria in raw salad vegetables using model food poisoning isolates. In clinical investigations plants are sampled for bacterial contamination but no attempt is made to differentiate between epiphytes and endophytes. Results here indicate that the mode isolates persist endophytically thereby escaping conventional chlorine washes and they may also induce host defenses, which results in their suppression and in negative results in conventional plate count screening. Finally a discussion of criteria that should be considered for a HACCP plan for safe raw salad vegetable production is presented.
Biological control strategy for soilborne pathogens , Persistence of enteric bacteria , HACCP plan
Rafferty, S. M. 2001. Biological wastes as plant growth substrate amendments. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.
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