New research on Canada’s Prince Edward Island is using mustard and arugula to tackle pest problems in potato fields with a side benefit, farmers hope, of making the soil healthier at the same time. As the CBC’s Nancy Russell reports in this news story, the mustard in the field is called caliente rojo, and is specially bred to have high levels of glucosinolates, a natural component in many pungent plants including mustard, cabbage, and horseradish.
“In conventional mustards, they’re bred down so that they’re not quite as potent, but this is a variety that is specifically bred to have really high levels of those glucosinolates,” said Ryan Barrett, research and agronomy specialist with the P.E.I. Potato Board.
Barrett said there is just a small amount of arugula in the mix, but it has a very specific purpose, aimed at attracting nematodes. “Nematodes like to feed on the roots of arugula, so a little bit of it is put in the mixture so that it grows at the bottom of the canopy, and the nematodes go to that,” Barrett said. “Then when we incorporate the mustard, those nematodes will be in that root zone where we’re incorporating. So they’ll be more exposed to the natural biofumigant gas.”
Source: CBC News. Full story here
Photo: Barrett said this specific project started last year, with five fields across the Island, and those fields are in potatoes this year. Courtesy Shane Hennessey/CBC.