Methyl bromide alternatives . . . Soil solarization provides weed control for limited-resource and organic growers in warmer climates
Organic farmers and limited-resource growers in the San Joaquin Valley and other agricultural areas in California — many of whom are ethnic minorities — encounter limited options and environmental constraints when seeking economically viable pest management methods. Over the past 8 years, we have conducted weed research and implementation projects on soil solarization at the UC Kearney Research and Extension Center and on farms in the surrounding San Joaquin Valley. In the Kearney studies, small-scale solarization in parsley reduced weed biomass 94% to 99% over the untreated control. Furthermore, in an on-farm study, solarization provided effective weed control for strawberries at a much lower cost than methyl bromide, with comparable yields. This research has provided guidelines and technical support for growers wishing to implement solarization and related techniques for nonchemical soil disinfestation in a wide variety of specialty crops.