Said A. H. Hamido Abstract


Sustainable Production of Tomato in a No-till System
Said A. H. Hamido


Advised by an interdisciplinary team composed of
Dr. K. Kpomblekou-A, Dr. R. Zabawa, Dr. L. Jackai, and Dr. N. Alvarez
Department of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
Tuskegee University


Abstract

Tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum) is a member of the Solanaceae family (Nightshade family). It is the most commonly cultivated vegetable crop in the world. Today the United States produces more fresh market tomatoes than any other country in the world. The number of tomato acres in Alabama decreased by 50% during the last decade, and its production value also decreased by 60% during the same period. Weeding was reported as a major problem in tomato production. Up until now, methyl bromide has been used as a soil fumigant to control weeds, insects, and diseases in tomato fields. However, methyl bromide has adverse effects on the environment, and is due to be removed from the U.S. market in 2005. This research seeks an environmentally friendly alternative to methyl bromide. Crop rotations that include legumes and grasses may be used as alternatives to methyl bromide. Cover crops are cheap, safe, and easily used. The objectives of this research are to: (1) improve tomato production by using cover crops such as Crimson clover, Black oat, and a mixture of Crimson clover and Black oat to manage disease, weeds, and insects at a level comparable to current chemical dependent production practices; (2) maintain yields at current levels without adverse environmental impacts; and (3) identify niche markets, and new product ideas. Two tillage systems were examined: conventional tillage and no-till. The experiment field is located at The George Washington Carver Agricultural Experimental Station at Tuskegee University. Cover crops were planted early in spring 2004, plowed and incorporated into soil or mowed and left on the soil surface. Prior to establishment of the cover crops, eight core soil samples were collected diagonally at 0-15 cm depth using an auger. The soil samples were air dried and passed through a 2-mm sieve. A portion of the soil was sent to Auburn University soil testing laboratory for routine analyses. Total C, N, and S were analyzed by using an automated CHNS Analyzer. Total P was analyzed by the perchloric acid digestion method and the P in the digest was determined by the Murphy and Riley procedure. Inorganic N was determined by steam distillation. Berlese Funnel was used to extract soil arthropods, which were identified, by using appropriate guidebooks. Sticky traps were also used to collect flying insects. Preliminary results showed that tomato yields were high under the conventional tillage system when Crimson clover preceded the tomato crop.