A balanced approach to nematode management

March 20, 2024 5:30 p.m.

By Nufarm

Not all nematodes are created equal. Understanding why limiting the impact on beneficial nematodes is important for soil health and the overall sustainability of your fields is a great first step. The articles referenced below from Michigan State University and the University of Florida deliver excellent perspective on the challenges facing growers in preventing damage from yield robbing, “bad” or parasitic nematodes.

An article from the University of Florida states “Most nematodes are considered free-living, meaning that they function at several trophic levels of the food web and act as prey and predator for other creatures. Free-living nematodes are some of nature’s most vital decomposers, recycling minerals and nutrients from bacteria, fungi and other substances back into the soil. These unsung heroes are especially good at mineralizing nitrogen. Nitrogen is an essential part of chlorophyll, which enables plants to conduct photosynthesis. Without free-living nematodes, fields would be filled with withered crops unable to convert sunlight into energy. Good nematodes like the free-living nematode are a vital component of soil microbial communities, which makes bad nematodes more difficult to deal with[1].” 

According to Michigan State University, “Plants grow better in the presence of beneficial nematodes. This is due to the fact nematodes must excrete excess nitrogen from their bodies and it’s usually in the form of ammonia. Since nematodes feed on bacteria colonizing the surfaces of roots, ammonia is released right in these areas making it readily available to plants. This constitutes a more effective way to feed plants instead of dumping nutrients into the soil at one or two times during a growing season. It’s like the way mineralization occurs after growing a legume and why these plants provide nitrogen credits; nutrients are pulsed into the soil over an extended period of time. Feeding plants steadily are more optimal than giving them large amounts of nutrients infrequently.[2]

Plant-parasitic nematodes don’t feed on bacteria, fungi and other microorganisms like free-living nematodes. Rather, they feed on plant roots by using needle-like mouthparts, known as a stylet, to puncture plant cells and ingest plant fluids. As you can imagine, this process isn’t ideal for plant health. Unable to obtain water and nutrients through their damaged roots, affected plants become yellow, withered and stunted and eventually succumb to death1

Balancing the need to control damaging plant-parasitic nematodes while minimizing the impact on beneficial species in the soil is an important challenge farmers must address. This is why it is important to understand how the seed treatment product used to control nematodes work.

Trunemco Nematode Management from Nufarm delivers a dual defense for developing seedlings. First, the chemical component, Cis-Jasmone, primes the plant’s natural defense by triggering three natural nematode responses: physical barriers inside the plant to block penetrating nematodes, natural compounds to attack invading nematodes, and the optimization of the individual cell body’s response to nematode invasion.

When nematodes attack an untreated plant, it causes an overactive “haywire response” that depletes resources, impairing the plant’s ability to defend itself. Trunemco enables a “smart response” that helps the plant overcome the impairment caused by the nematode and further optimizes defense by increasing the expression of the appropriate defensive genes by 98%.

In addition to triggering a smarter systemic response, Trunemco deploys the biological protection of Bacillus amyloliquefaciens (MBI600) that actively colonizes the roots of the developing plants and creates a living barrier that helps prevent plant-parasitic nematodes from reaching and penetrating the roots. It also reduces the availability of feeding sites, helping to suppress the growth of plant-parasitic nematode populations.

The application of Trunemco on seed provides assurance against the plant-parasitic nematode damage without eliminating beneficial nematodes within your soil profile that are contributing to overall soil health. This sets Trunemco apart from other leading nematicide options, delivering a win-win for growers.

[1] Sharing the Planet with Good and Bad Nematodes

[2] Selecting cover crops for sites infested with plant-parasitic nematodes in Michigan