Use of Crop Rotations, Cover Crops and Green Manures for Disease Suppression in Potato Cropping Systems


Soil health
Cultural control
Soil microbiology

How to Cite

Larkin RP. Use of Crop Rotations, Cover Crops and Green Manures for Disease Suppression in Potato Cropping Systems. Glob. J. Agric. Innov. Res. Dev [Internet]. 2021 Nov. 15 [cited 2022 May 21];8:153-68. Available from:


Crop rotations and the inclusion of cover crops and green manures are primary tools in the sustainable management of soil-borne diseases in crop production systems. Crop rotations can reduce soil-borne disease through three general mechanisms: (1) serving as a break in the host-pathogen cycle; (2) by altering the soil physical, chemical, or biological characteristics to stimulate microbial activity and diversity; or (3) directly inhibiting pathogens through the release of suppressive or toxic compounds or the enhancement of specific antagonists. Brassicas, sudangrass, and related plant types are disease-suppressive crops well-known for their biofumigation potential but also have other effects on soil microbiology that are important in disease suppression. The efficacy of rotations for reducing soil-borne diseases is dependent on several factors, including crop type, rotation length, rotation sequence, and use of the crop (as full-season rotation, cover crop, or green manure). Years of field research with Brassica and non-Brassica rotation crops in potato cropping systems in Maine have documented the efficacy of Brassica green manures for the reduction of multiple soil-borne diseases. However, they have also indicated that these crops can provide disease control even when not incorporated as green manures and that other non-biofumigant crops (such as barley, ryegrass, and buckwheat) can also be effective in disease suppression. In general, all crops provided better disease control when used as green manure vs. as a cover crop, but the addition of a cover crop can improve control provided by most rotation crops. In long-term cropping system trials, rotations incorporating multiple soil health management practices, such as longer rotations, disease-suppressive rotation crops, cover crops, and green manures, and/or organic amendments have resulted in greater yield and microbial activity and fewer disease problems than standard rotations. These results indicate that improved cropping systems may enhance productivity, sustainability, and economic viability.


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