Soil Solarization for the Control of Nematodes and Soilborne Diseases

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Effective control of plant parasitic nematodes, soilborne plant pathogens, and some weed pests is a serious challenge for farmers and home gardeners. Soil solarization is a simple, safe, and effective alternative to the toxic, costly soil pesticides and the lengthy crop rotations now needed to control many damaging soil pests. Radiant heat from the sun is the lethal agent in this process, in which a clear polyethylene mulch or tarp is used to trap solar heat in the soil. Over a period of several weeks to a few months, soil temperatures become high enough to kill many of the damaging soil pests—and give good weed control—to a depth of nearly 8 inches. This four-page publication provides instructions on soil preparation, soil moisture, and choosing and laying the appropriate material. Includes color photos and a table of diseases controlled by soil solarization.

Austin K. Hagan
William S. Gazaway
Alabama Cooperative Extension System