Advances in soil-borne plant diseases by Rob Jenkins, C.K. Jain

By Rob Jenkins, C.K. Jain

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Organic manuring helps to enrich or favour the multiplication of many soil fauna and microorganisms including those antagonistic to soil pests. In recent years, the application of greater quantities of synthetic fertilisers has been very common in contrast to the negligible use of organic manures. The eggs, larvae and pupae of soil insects are liable to be affected either by the soil-inhabiting pathogens or their toxins. However, the absence of organic manures in the soil enables the above pests Lo thrive owing to the depletion of the natural biotic restricting factors.

It is a mutualistic relationship; the surface of the ant nest mound provides a better environment than that of the su~rounding soil for earthworms (favourable temperature, moisture and pH, and an abundant food supply) and earthworms prevent the nest mounds. from becoming overgrown by moulds and fungi. Role of Soil Macrofauna 47 Another example of the association of a key indicator group with microorganisms are the fungus-growing ants (which include the leaf-cutting ants). These ants collect various materials and feed them to a symbiotic fungus that lives in their nests.

The increasing use of pesticides has also upset the balance of life in soil when they have been applied directly in the soil and by drip from the foliage. Their subsequent incorporation into soil can also reduce the natural enemies of soil insects. Certain practices such us improved pasture can result in increased populations of soil macrofauna. The similarity of the original ecosystem and the derived agro-ecosystem tends to be a major determinant of native species' survival, adaptation, resilience and stability within the boundaries of ecosystem management.

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