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Symposium on soil disinfestation

The IX international soil disinfestation symposium was held recently in Crete. Certis Europe interviewed Eleftherios Tjamos(*), President of the Hellenic Society of Phytiatry

Professor Tjamos, can you share some more details and information on its organization format and participants?

“The IX International Symposium on Soil and Substrate Disinfestation, organized by the Hellenic Society of Phytiatry, the International Society of Horticultural Sciences and the Agricultural University of Athens, Greece, was held in Heraklion, Crete, Greece, between 9-13 September 2018. The primary aim of this International Symposium was to promote and highlight current world research developments and applicational activities related to soil and substrate disinfestation by providing the podium to several invited lectures along with oral presentations, a poster session and a really important round table discussion.  Over 140 scientists and accompanying persons from 22 countries around the globe participated in the congress. Indeed, as organizers we succeeded in attracting participation of a quite diversified group of scientists, coming from USA, Canada, Martinique, Australia, China, Japan, Singapore, Indonesia, Turkey, Israel, South Africa, Morocco, Belgium, Germany, Greece, Italy, France, Poland, Romania, Spain, Switzerland, and Netherlands. Participants form China, USA and Greece were the most numerable representative groups”.

Which were the key topics covered and debated during this event?

“Symposium was opened by Prof. J. Katan from Rehovot, Israel, who gave the opening lecture on the Milestones and future expectations of soil disinfestation after forty-five years of soil disinfestation symposia (1973-2018), followed by Giovanna Gilardi, Torino, Italy; on Emerging soilborne pathogens and trends in their management. The scientific sessions included hot current topics based on research and application around the Globe. So the three days of scientific program was devoted to anaerobic soil disinfestation(1); soil disinfestation and beneficial microorganisms(2); disinfestation against nematodes(3); soil solarization, biosolarization, biofumigation and nonfumigant soil disinfestation technologies(4); Soil disinfection technologies(5); dimethyl disulphide (DMDS)(6); The phase out of methyl bromide under the Montreal Protocol(7); Cultural practices and Combined Control Measures(8) and resistant Cultivars and Grafting for Soil-Borne Disease Management(9)”.

Which are the key trends in soil disinfestation research noticed out of this symposium?

“The key trends referred to anaerobic soil disinfestation and also soil disinfestation and beneficial microorganisms. The old but still significant methods of soil solarization along with biosolarization, biofumigation and nonfumigant soil disinfestation technologies were also presented. Several papers were focused on the dimethyl disulphide (DMDS), while the contribution of resistant cultivars and grafting for soil-borne disease management was also stressed”.

Crete symposium hosted also a round table on the regulatory issues in EU on registering soil pesticides, particularly fumigants. Which is your opinion on the value of such scientific discussion linked also with the availability of registered products in our countries?

“Yes, a round table discussion devoted to the future of soil disinfestation in the European regulatory climate was also organized. The Moderators were Prof. Jacob Katan from Israel and Mrs. Francesca Ydraiou from the Greek Plant Protection, while discussants have been Peter Smits, Independent advisor (Netherlands),

María Del Mar Guerrero Díaz Imida Murcia (Spain), Massimo Pugliese,  University of Torino (Italy) and Sotirios Tjamos, Agricultural University of Athens (Greece). During round table discussion was especially stressed the clear message from the scientific community meetings that chemical soil disinfestation is still a very important tool, needed to maintain a financially sustainable production of intensive crops in Europe and in the rest of the world. It was also underlined that the EU registration system, according to the Regulation EC 1107/2009, is over complex and conservative. Current system should become more pragmatic and risk based and regulators should come in touch with the real agricultural world. Last but not least, scientific community should express their evaluation independently from political pressure”.

After symposium you organized also a national technical day with greek technicians, right to covey the messages coming out from symposium itself. We believe this is a very good initiative bringing the research outputs to the grower level. Can you share with us what were the key messages transmitted to the field technicians?

 “This post congress scientific meeting was organized on September 14 by the Hellenic Society of Phytiatry and the Plastika Kritis. It was addressed to agronomists and producers of the country on providing updated information on the global and greek developments in soil disinfection research and application.

Speakers and topics were focused on Cleanstart in Greece (Smyrnakis from K & N Eythimiades); integrated soil disinfection management with chloropicrin and its re-approval procedure in EU (A. Kalamaraki from Alfa and Jan Pecina, tris international); Varieties, hybrids and rootstocks of vegetables (C. Lavdas:from Rijk Zwaan); New plastic for greenhouses and soil disinfections (D. Doukas from Plastika Kritis); Global data on anaerobic soil disinfection (E. Markakis); Control of bacterial cancer of tomatoes in the greenhouse (D. Goumas); Soil disinfestation in Peloponnese periphery (A. Paraskeuopoulos); recent achievements on Soil solarization application in Greece (E.C. Tjamos) and presentation of Agris, a modern plant production seedling company (C. Metaxas).

What about your advice for the convener of the next soil international symposium?

“Convener of X International Symposium on Soil and Substrate Disinfestation should take up early steps in organizing, publicizing and promoting the congress among research institutions, Universities and private sectors working on the topic. Obviously, individual scientists leading in the topic of soil disinfestation should be invited to be responsible in forming the international scientific and organizing committee and providing consultancy to convener and local organizing committee. They should also drastically involve leading chemical pharmaceutical companies both in this organization and in the program itself. Finally, they should organize a technical visit to typical agricultural production areas, where soil disinfestation is extensively investigated and practiced”.      

(*) Eleftherios (Eris) Tjamos, Emeritus Professor,

Agricultural University of Athens Department of Plant Pathology 75 Iera odos str. 11855 Athens Greece. Convener of IX SD2018 and President of the Hellenic Society of Phytiatry