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This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 75 No. 1, p. 9-16
    Received: Oct 2, 2009

    * Corresponding author(s): scott.yates@ars.usda.gov


Active Solarization as a Nonchemical Alternative to Soil Fumigation for Controlling Pests

  1. S.R. Yates *a,
  2. D.J. Ashwortha,
  3. M.D. Yatesb and
  4. Lifang Luoc
  1. a Dep. of Environmental Science, Univ. of California, Riverside, CA 92521
    b USDA-ARS, U.S. Salinity Lab., 450 W. Big Springs Rd., Riverside, CA 92507
    c Dep. of Civil and Environ. Eng., Pennsylvania State Univ., University Park, PA 16802


Deterioration of soil, water, and air resources by soil fumigants represents a serious threat to agricultural production in semiarid regions due to their high volatility and high emission rates. New pest control methods are needed that do not rely on fumigant chemicals. Soil heating via solarization has been proposed as a nonchemical alternative to soil fumigation but has not found wide acceptance due to limitations in soil temperatures and heating depth, especially in cooler environments. We have developed a new soil heating method, termed active solarization, to increase the soil temperature and heating depth in the root zone. An experiment was conducted to compare heating for bare soil, standard (i.e., passive) solarization, and active solarization methodologies. A cumulative heat stress index, CHT30, was computed and has been shown to be related to plant-pest survival. After 15 d of heating, passive solarization increased at the 10- and 20-cm depths by 263 and 65°C h, respectively, compared with leaving the soil bare. For active solarization, CHT30 increased by 387 and 105°C h, respectively, compared with bare soil. After 30 d of passive solarization, CHT30 at 10 and 20 cm was 345 and 66°C h, respectively, and for active solarization CHT30 was 755 and 252°C h. The results indicate that active solarization increases soil temperatures and heat stress on plant pests. Based on published pest survival information, observed CHT30 after active solarization would provide better control of a plant pest (nematode) than passive solarization. Active solarization may offer a suitable nonchemical alternative to soil fumigation.

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