• newswise-fullscreen What is biofumigation and the connection to soil health?

    Credit: Credit: Justin O’Dea.

    A Brassica juncea cover crop nourishes pollinators for two to four weeks before it is turned into soils to help mitigate soil-borne crop pathogens. These multifunctional cover crops also excel at catching soluble nutrients, improving soil infiltration, and returning organic matter to soils.

Newswise — June 17, 2019 – You may have noticed that some vegetables, like cabbages and mustards, have distinct smells. Some of that scent comes from sulfur compounds produced by the plants when growing. The Soil Science Society of America’s (SSSA) June 15th Soils Matter blog looks at how plants can share some of these smelly products with the soil – and in the process offer antimicrobial assistance!

According to blogger Justin O’Dea, Brassica plants – cabbages and mustards – can be used to control some out-of-control soil microbes. The process is called biofumigation.

“Using mustard plants for their ability to release chemical compounds is called biofumigation,” says O’Dea, who works with Washington State University. “On the surface, the process seems straightforward:

  1. Mustard is planted and grown as a cover crop.
  2. The mature mustard plants are chopped finely, and turned into the soil.
  3. The soil is then packed and moistened.
  4. The soil is often covered with a mulch to keep it warm and moist, as well as to hold the biofumigation gases in the soil.”

In practice, applying these techniques in a farm setting is a bit tougher. “There is a lot of chemistry involved during and after this process,” says O’Dea. “Let’s simplify it to say that the moisture and warmth of the soil start a series of reactions that make compounds that are natural fungicides.”

So O’Dea and others proposed using biofumigation to rid northeast soils of a fungal disease when a blight was hurting the pumpkins and peppers ready to be harvested in the fall of 2012. Conditions were set for this infection the previous year – after 2011’s hurricane and tropical storm season left soils wet.

Read the outcomes and the entire post here: https://soilsmatter.wordpress.com/2019/06/15/what-is-biofumigation-and-the-connection-to-soil-health

Follow SSSA on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SSSA.soils, Twitter at SSSA_Soils. SSSA has soils information on www.soils.org/discover-soils, for teachers at www.soils4teachers.org, and for students through 12th grade, www.soils4kids.org.

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