Solarization: what it is and how it is done

Solarization: what it is and how it is done

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There sunburn is a particular soil disinfection technique, used in large parts of the world as an alternative to other more complicated techniques, such as fumigation.

In summary, solarize a land means covering it with a transparent plastic sheet, to allow the area to reach temperatures necessary to control pathogens and contain the development of weeds.

Clearly, precisely by virtue of the above, it is evident that a strong limitation of sunburn it relates precisely to the dependence on climatic factors.

What is sunburn

Taking up some of the concepts that we have already summarized above, we remember how the soil solarization is an environmentally friendly way to use the power of the sun and heat to control pests and weeds such as bacteria, insects and weeds in the soil.

The process consists of cover the ground with a tarpaulin, usually made of transparent polyethylene, to trap solar energy. The sun heats the soil to temperatures that kill bacteria, fungi, insects, nematodes, mites, weeds, and weed seeds.

How to solarize the soil

For solarize the soil you need:

  • clear the area of ​​plants and debris;
  • water the soil deeply until it is completely wet;
  • cover the area with a transparent plastic sheet. It's best not to use black or white plastic, as it won't allow enough heat to reach the ground. Better instead to prefer the transparent one;
  • bury the plastic edges of the tarp in the ground to trap heat and create a greenhouse effect;
  • leave the plastic for at least 4 weeks in the hottest part of summer;
  • remove the plastic.

Recall that the soil solarization works best on heavy soils - those containing clay, loam, or mixtures thereof. They can hold more water than light soil does, long enough to steam every day. Steam is needed to kill nematodes, weed seeds, and insect eggs in the soil.

Conversely, sunburn may be less effective on sandy soils, which drain faster and produce less steam. To maximize the benefit of sunburn in sandy soils, lay drip irrigation lines under the clear plastic lid and add water regularly.

Normally, drops of water should appear on the underside of the plastic in the early hours of each morning and disappear by noon after the water has turned into steam. The next day, the water pearls should appear again.

If you notice that fewer drops appear in the morning than usual, then it means that the time has come to turn on the irrigation system and to replenish the water in the soil. Any area can be solarized as long as the plastic sheet is large enough to cover the intended area.

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Advantages of sunburn

THE benefits of sunburn compared to other soil disinfestation systems they are many and, from reading this in-depth analysis, they should be quite intuitive.

First, through the careful use of this technique, you are really able to destroy most of fungi and other pathogens, then causing the devitalization of those substances that are not subjected to high temperatures, and commonly prevents their ability to cause subsequent infections, extending the usefulness of this treatment over time.

Second, the solarization of the land it is able to safeguard the microbial flora, which is the antagonist of the pathogenic one. Considering that the microbial flora is thermotolerant, and can carry out a containment action with respect to various elements, a lasting benefit can be obtained through this synergistic action.

It should also be borne in mind that through this technique it is possible to obtain an easy control of a large number of infesting species, except for some species that cannot be directly affected, perhaps due to the depth in which they are located in the soil.

Last, but not least, is the benefit linked to simplicity of use of this technique, considering that all that is needed in order to replicate a good solarization of the soil is a sheet of plastic and water.


Keep in mind that to get the maximum benefit from sunburn and still have time to plant in the fall, you will need weed-free soil, plenty of water and plastic with buried edges for 4 weeks in midsummer.

Several international researches have found that soil solarization can suppress weeds in both the short and long term.

Now, despite the sunburn technique is known to many farmers and can reserve many benefits, such as those we have briefly chosen to summarize above, it should be noted that very frequently it has not been taken seriously by the farmers themselves and by the new generations.

One of the reasons that sunburn does not seem to have hit the mark is that it has been used extensively in the past methyl bromide. A substance whose use is now prohibited or in any case very limited, and which in the past was more widespread.

However, we believe it is very likely that sunburn may discover a new "youth". It is in fact increasingly important, nowadays, to find valid alternatives for the disinfestation of one's land, especially related to the field of techniques with a lower environmental impact and more respectful of the environment.

In this sense, we therefore believe that soil solarization can be discovered or rediscovered by many farmers and, with it, promote a new, more environmentally friendly approach to soil treatment.

Video: Solarization (May 2022).