Weed seed inactivation in soil mesocosms via biosolarization with mature compost and tomato processing waste amendments

Yigal Achmon, Jesús D. Fernández-Bayo, Katie Hernandez, Dlinka G. McCurry, Duff R. Harrold, Joey Su, Ruth M. Dahlquist-Willard, James J. Stapleton, Jean S. VanderGheynst, Christopher W. Simmons*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Biosolarization is a fumigation alternative that combines passive solar heating with amendment-driven soil microbial activity to temporarily create antagonistic soil conditions, such as elevated temperature and acidity, that can inactivate weed seeds and other pest propagules. The aim of this study was to use a mesocosm-based field trial to assess soil heating, pH, volatile fatty acid accumulation and weed seed inactivation during biosolarization. RESULTS: Biosolarization for 8 days using 2% mature green waste compost and 2 or 5% tomato processing residues in the soil resulted in accumulation of volatile fatty acids in the soil, particularly acetic acid, and >95% inactivation of Brassica nigra and Solanum nigrum seeds. Inactivation kinetics data showed that near complete weed seed inactivation in soil was achieved within the first 5 days of biosolarization. This was significantly greater than the inactivation achieved in control soils that were solar heated without amendment or were amended but not solar heated. CONCLUSION: The composition and concentration of organic matter amendments in soil significantly affected volatile fatty acid accumulation at various soil depths during biosolarization. Combining solar heating with organic matter amendment resulted in accelerated weed seed inactivation compared with either approach alone.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)862-873
Number of pages12
JournalPest Management Science
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 May 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • compost
  • integrated pest management
  • passive solar heating
  • soil acidification
  • sustainable agriculture
  • tomato pomace
  • volatile fatty acids


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