Sep 1, 2022
Nematodes: How They Help or Harm Your Soil
Certis Biologicals

{Sponsored} Nematodes are roundworms of the large phylum Nematoda, most of which are microscopic (less than 1 mm long) and invisible to the human eye. Nematodes are the most numerous multicellular animals on earth; a single teaspoon of soil may contain hundreds of nematodes of many species. While some nematodes are parasites of plants, insects, or vertebrates, many more species are free-living in soil where they help distribute beneficial bacteria and fungi through the soil and along the roots of plants by carrying microbes in their digestive systems and on their surface. 

Awareness of their role in your soil will help you understand how nematodes may help or harm your crops and yield.

Beneficial Nematodes

Although the word “nematode” may stir fears of crop loss in the ag industry, not all nematodes are harmful!

Most nematode species occur as free-living organisms naturally in the soil and benefit soil health and the environment. They help break down organic matter (like a compost pile), and some species can also control above and below ground pests.

Harmful Nematodes

 Sorry we didn’t get the bad news out of the way, but there are some species called plant parasitic nematodes that are harmful to plants because they feed on the roots in the soil. 

Harmful nematodes feed on root systems with a sharp needle-like structure called a stylet. The root knot nematode, Meloidogyne spp., is the most serious plant parasitic nematode problem in the world, because of its global distribution and wide range of host crops. 

Many symptoms of nematode infestation can go unnoticed while still causing a negative impact on yield. Symptoms are often misdiagnosed as being caused by nutritional deficiencies or disease before growers ever know that is due to the nematodes present in the field and feeding on roots. 

Fight Hidden Threats

Plant parasitic nematodes often linger in the soil, secretly causing root damage to crops before growers realize it.

Since it’s difficult to know if harmful nematodes exist in your soil, it’s important to take preventive measures to manage soil health and protect crop yield. A soil test can determine whether plant parasitic nematodes are present in potentially damaging numbers at time of sampling.

Plant parasitic nematodes are projected to cause an average global crop yield loss of over 10% annually, which corresponds to well over $100 billion dollars worldwide. If nematodes multiply and grow rampant in your soil, you face serious economic impact to your bottom line. 

Don’t wait until it’s too late for your crops – take preventive measures to minimize yield losses due to plant parasitic nematodes.

When you need flexibility and convenience for every stage of growth, choose MeloCon® to manage harmful nematodes in organic production and conventional IPM programs. 

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