The Challenge of Research and Extension to Define and Implement Alternatives to Methyl Bromide


  • J. W. Noling
  • J. O. Becker


Over the past 30 years, methyl bromide (MBr), a broad spectrum fumigant, has been used extensively for soilborne disease and pest control in the production of many fruit, vegetable, turf, and nursery crops. Recently, agricultural emissions of MBr were implicated as a potentially significant contributor to stratospheric ozone depletion. As a precautionary measure for global ozone protection, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has enforced federal legislation which mandates a complete phase-out of MBr use within the United States by 1 January 2001. Thus, new cost effective, environmentally compatible strategies for control of nematodes and other soilborne pests and pathogens must be developed and tested in a relatively short time to avoid significant losses in crop productivity. The extent to which certain agricultural industries that are now heavily reliant on MBr are affected will depend on the development of sustainable, integrated tactics to pest control, such as combinations of cultural, chemical, and biological tactics. New muhidisciplinary research and extension programs must be developed to address and overcome major constraints and incompatibilities that have prevented such tactics from being widely adopted. Key words: alternative agriculture, biological control, chemical control, cultural control, fumigation, integrated pest management, methyl bromide, nematode, nematode management, sustainable agriculture.