A large part of Australia’s broad acre irrigation industry, which includes cotton, is farmed on heavy clay Vertosols. Recent changes in nematicide chemical availability, changes in rotations and the observation of the reniform nematode in central Queensland has highlighted that we need to improve our understanding of nematodes in these soils. We undertook preliminary investigations into distribution by depth under a cotton-cotton and cotton-maize rotation as well as vertical movement experiments in microcosms to better understand nematode distribution and movement in heavy clay soils. Analysis revealed that field populations decreased with soil sample depth, but there were also differences between rotations. In microcosm experiments, vertical movement of nematodes in these heavy clay soils was restricted, even in the presence of plant roots and moisture, both of which were hypothesised to improve nematode migration. The results imply that crop rotation currently remains a plausible option for nematode control, and that we still have a lot to learn about the ecology of nematode populations in Vertosols.
- Zea mays