Integrated Foliar Disease Management to Prevent Yield Loss in Argentinian Wheat Production
Zero tillage often leads to wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) yield losses from diseases caused by necrotrophic foliar pathogens. The aim of this work was to evaluate the combined effect of tillage, N fertilization, fungicides, and resistant cultivars in reducing foliar disease severity to prevent significant yield losses. A 2-yr study including combinations of (i) conventional and zero tillage; (ii) N fertilization rates 0, 80, or 160 kg ha–1 N; (iii) two fungicide treatments (with and without a fungicide (1 L of metconazole, 9%) at growth stages (GS) 32 and 39; and (iv) three wheat cultivars was conducted in the Rolling Pampas region in Argentina. The most common foliar disease in the trial was tan spot [Pyrenophora tritici-repentis (Died.) Drechs.]. Conventional tillage reduced foliar disease severity at GS 23 by 46 and 56% and the area under disease progress curve (AUDPC) by 20 and 14% for each season, respectively compared with zero tillage. The cultivar Buck Bigua had significantly lower AUDPC values than the others. Fungicide and N application reduced disease severity at GS 23 by 35 and 34% respectively, on average over both years. Disease was less severe in zero tillage plots which received a fungicide compared to conventional tillage plots that were not treated with fungicide. In 2002 yields were greater in conventional tillage plots with 160 kg ha–1 N and fungicide application than in all other treatments. In 2003 yields were greatest in zero tillage plots with 160 kg ha–1 N and fungicide. The results of this study indicate that in spite of the increase of necrotrophic diseases, developing no-till systems in wheat monoculture is possible without significant yield losses if effective disease management practices are applied.