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Soil Solarization Offers Organic Weed-Control Option

Oregon State University (OSU) plant pathologist Jennifer Parke found that soil solarization may offer Northwest organic farmers an effective way to control soil pathogens and weeds, reports Organic Farmer. Although the technique has proven effective in hotter climates, it didn’t work in the cooler Pacific Northwest until Parke tried using new, non-condensing film made for the greenhouse industry. Using the film for solarization heats the soil by about 10°C: enough to kill pathogens but not beneficial microorganisms. Field testing in nurseries showed dramatic reductions in weeds and produced healthier plants. Parke’s research team is now testing the minimum amount of time needed for effective solarization.