Biosolorization a Potential Tool for Producers?

Dan Pest Update, Research

Courtesy UC Davis

Research is looking at using a combination of byproducts and the sun as a replacement for chemical fumigants. UC Davis is testing an idea that would give producers another tool against soil-borne pests. The process is called biosolorization. Using the sun to solarize soil is nothing new but the process which covers the ground with a plastic film, can take over a month to be effective. Biosolarization essentially speeds this process up by adding byproducts such as peels, skins, and hulls. UC Davis said the byproduct under the tarps promotes good bacteria growth and makes the soil temporarily acidic which is not favorable for weeds and some pests.

UC Davis Food Science and Technology Professor Christopher Simmons is heading the research across the state. He said in a press release, “We still have a lot of work to do, but biosolarization is showing real potential as a safe, sustainable way to control pests while improving crop quality and yield.” 

One of the projects they are working is a long-term trial in Chico at Nicolaus Nut Company. Almond Grower Rory Crowley said in the release he was impressed after just the first year. “Using biosolarization and a mustard cover crop, we’ve increased organic matter by 1.25 to 1.75 percent, which is a huge jump. That’s good for carbon sequestration and the overall health of the soil.”

Simmons said they have field trials going on lettuce, tomatoes, and many other crops. One of the industries whos growers desperately needs a chemical fumigant alternative is strawberries. Simmons said they would soon start tests on the berries as well.

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Taylor Hillman