Fighting Nematodes in Tomato Farming

Fighting Nematodes in Tomato Farming

In Chile, cost for tomato production is increasing year by year due to the extensive use of insecticides and chemicals. Today, the tomato market is undergoing a serious problem that is the demand being bigger than supply. The reasons are excessive cost production for agricultural inputs, approximately 50% of total cost, due to treatments to prevent the incidence of nematodes and Fusarium disease. The EM producer in Chile, has successfully introduced EM Technology in a tomato farm,” La Quebrada del Aji” to combat plant diseases. 

General Information

The company La “Quebrada del Aji” has been dedicated to tomatoes, avocados, cherries and citric farming for more than 30 years now. They grow the tomato variety named “Luciana”, very popular in Chile for its color, roundness form and texture that grow well during cold season. Their products are destined for national consumption approaching the use of less chemicals as possible in their cultivation farms.

“La Quebrada del Aji” is located in Quillota city, 140km from Santiago in Chile with a population of 85,262. Quillota city is distinguished for being a valley with fertile soil and long dry climate with maximum temperature of 21.1°C and minimum of 7.9°C. Annual precipitation is approximately 430mm.“La Quebrada del Aji” farm usually uses the conventional method to grow tomatoes,but use forage turnips cultivation to add organic matter to the soils. Fertilizers are applied via drip irrigation and directly to the soil.


The farmer working for 30 years managing tomatoes cultivation, expressed that their core problems are Nematodes, Fusarium and Phytophthora that become resistant year by year against nematocides and chemical products. Disease causes forage chlorosis and nodules in roots (Photo 1-2).

EM Applications

They started a pilot test with EM from June 2016 until harvest season from the end of November to January 2017. The test area was assigned to a greenhouse of 1 Ha, using half of the area for conventional farming and half for EM treatment (Photo 3). The pilot test was carried as follows:

Preparation of soil

This house had a cultivation of forage turnip that was incorporated into the soil and overturned to add more organic matter. Forage turnip was also treated with EM (Photo 4). In other cases it is recommendable to add compost (3 Tons/Ha). Preparation of soil started 1 month before planting.

Before planting

Irrigation of soil ⇒ EM (Activated EM) diluted in a ratio of 1:1000

Planting and Care

  • Immersion of seedling ⇒ EM diluted in water (ratio 5%)
  • Application of EM ⇒ to soil and directly into the hole of plantation monthly by drip irrigation during all the production term of 8 months 
  • Foliar application of EM・5 ⇒ EM・5 diluted in water (ratio 2%) every 2 weeks.

Total Amount of EM Applied


  • Harvested tomatoes at the EM treated area, were bigger in size and weight against ones from control area
  • Tomatoes in control area, were small due to high incidence of nematodes and roots full of nodules
  • Roots treated with EM were white, healthy and full of root hairs. Nematodes in EM area were not eradicated 100%, however, nematodes cannot infect the plants because immersion of seedlings protected them from nematodes.
  • Leaves, texture and color of tomatoes were quite different 
  • Quality of harvest was excellent and buyers want it EM grown because tomatoes were tastier
  • EM conducted to cost benefits comparing with chemical nematocides which are expensive and dangerous - there was a difference of 80% comparing with conventional chemical treatment. The farmer believes that EM is a definitive solution
  • Number of Trichoderma and other beneficial microorganism population increased with the use of EM while pathogens decrease