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Agronomy Journal Abstract -

Inhibition of Weed Seed Germination by Microwaves


This article in AJ

  1. Vol. 83 No. 2, p. 302-305
    Received: Mar 15, 1990

    * Corresponding author(s):
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  1. Allen V. Barker  and
  2. Lyle E. Craker
  1. Dep. of Plant and Soil Sciences, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA 01003



Irradiation with radiofrequency energy (RF), which includes microwaves, brings about dielectric heating of moist materials. Some agricultural applications of dielectric heating by RF have included insects control in stored grains and improved germination of seed stocks. The objective of the present research was to evaluate microwave heating of soils as a technique for weed control. Approximately 800-g masses of soil of variable wetness (10-280 g H2O/kg soil) containing seeds of oat (Arena sativa L.) and indigenous weeds were heated in a microwave (2.45 GHz) oven for IS to 240 s. Soil masses were 5 cm deep in flats. Oat seeds were placed 2 cm deep into the soil. Hearing of soils to 80 °C or higher inhibited emergence of oats and weed species. About 120 s of heating were needed to reach 80 °C. Maintaining this temperature for 30 s was needed for strong inhibition. Moisture content in this experiment had little effect on dielectric heating. Time required to heat soil to killing temperatures appears to be a factor limiting application of this technique. The procedure may be applicable to soil sterilization in cases in which other physical processes or chemical means are inconvenient or undesirable.

Contribution of Massachusetts Agric. Exp. Stn., Journal Series no. 2964.

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