June 1, 2021 | Soil Health

Webinar: Harnessing Sun And Organic Matter To Control Weeds

Top: Biosolarization test plot at the University of California (UC), Davis. Photo courtesy of Simmons Lab, UC Davis

The National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) is hosting a free webinar Wednesday, June 16 at 11:00 a.m. MDT about how to harness the sun and organic matter to control weeds. The practice, known as biosolarization, is a new innovation in the realm of weed control, explains NCAT. “Different from the commonly known practice of solarization, which uses clear plastic sheeting on moist soil to thermally terminate a variety of pest species, biosolarization includes the use of organic matter in the form of compost, cover crops, manure or other materials such as pomace or nut hulls. The addition of organic matter can accelerate the process by encouraging anaerobic soil disinfestation. The carbon from organic material produces chemicals with bio-pesticidal activity. The combination of these natural chemicals and heat acts like a fumigant and eliminates soil-borne pests and weed species.”

This hour-long, free webinar will cover theoretical concepts as well as results from field trials. Hosted by Martin Guerena, a sustainable agriculture specialist with NCAT, and Dr. Jesus Fernandez-Bayo, an Assistant Professional Researcher at the University of California-Davis, participants will learn more about the advantages and challenges of using different by-products in biosolarization to control weeds and soilborne pathogens. Prior to joining NCAT, Guerena served as the Integrated Pest Management Specialist for the City of Davis, California. Fernandez-Bayo’s research is focused on organic waste stabilization, environmental fate of pesticides and the effect of amendments on pesticides and soil quality. His current projects try to improve the composting and anaerobic digestion process by altering the properties of the initial material. A second project assesses the use of compost or digestates for soil biosolarization. Published research papers coauthored by Fernandez-Bayo include vermicomposts for use as pest control, an assessment of solid anaerobic digestate soil amendments for effects on soil quality and biosolarization efficacy, and how compost induces accumulation of biopesticidal organic acids during soil biosolarization.


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