A SUSTAINABILITY STUDY: NEW JERSEY SOIL COPPER LEVELS RESULTING FROM COPPER FUNGICIDE APPLICATIONS
RUTGERS COOPERATIVE EXTENSION
Vegetable producers rely on copper compounds for the prevention and suppression of plant diseases. During recent growing seasons growers questioned if the use of copper affected plant health and soil microbial activity. Research shows that soil copper levels above 130ppm with 6.5 or higher pH can cause toxicity symptoms. This project set out to determine if New Jersey soil copper levels are high enough to cause reduction growth and microbial activity. Fifteen farms were sampled for soil copper levels, ten of the farms are certified organic and five use conventional growing methods. Soil samples were taken from spayed and non-sprayed areas of each farm. Soil samples were analyzed at the Rutgers Soil Testing Laboratory for macro and micro nutrients (including soluble copper), soil pH, and organic matter content and soil microbiological activity using the Solvita respiration test. NRCS evaluated soil samples for total copper levels utilizing the PXRF scanner. Soil copper levels were lower than the growers had expected with a high of 27.61ppm soluble copper and a low of 2.22ppm of soluble copper. Several farms participating in this project had historical use of copper fungicides in excess of 30+ years. There was no direct correlation to historical use and higher than average soil copper levels. All farms that used copper fungicides had an increase in soil copper levels. The Solvita test was used to evaluate microbiological activity in three farm soils. This test showed that in the three farm soils copper was not a limiting factor in biological activity.
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Authors: M.V. Melendez, J. Heckman, S. Murphy, F. D'Amico, S. L. Shinn
Melendez, M. Senior Program Coordinator, RUTGERS COOPERATIVE EXTENSION, New Jersey, 08648
Heckman, J. Extension Specialist, Rutgers NJAES Cooperative Extension, New Jersey, 08901
Murphy, S. Director, Rutgers Soil Testing Laboratory, New Jersey, 08901
D'Amico, F. Herbicide Biologist, FMC Agricultural Solutions, New Jersey, 08628
Shinn, S. Global R&D Herbicide Group Leader, FMC Agricultural Solutions, New Jersey, 08628