Products which are considerably harmful to the environment are used to disinfest the agricultural soils; among them the methyl bromide which stands out as being the most used due to his high efficiency.
This product has been banned because it is not only capable of killing any living organism which it comes into contact with, but it also has bad consequences to human health. However, unfortunately, it is still used in many parts of the planet.
Lots of research groups from different places have been seeking a viable solution to minimalize the use of agrochemicals in soil disinfestation, but researchers from Itagra de Palencia Technological Centre were the ones who presented a quite interesting proposal.
These researchers concluded that ozone, a gas with high oxidising power, could be the best option to eliminate microorganisms and weeds, since it is not contaminating and its only residue in the soil is oxygen.
After three years of research the idea came from a project that sought ozone applications in agriculture, as Alberto Sanz, the coordinator of Itagra’s R&D, explains. On the other hand it was a moment when the European legislation introduced new restrictions on the usage of pesticides, banning methyl bromide.
When ozone is applied on the soil it releases a great quantity of oxygen radicals, so much that it comes to be “poisonous” to microorganisms. The problem laid in the fact that the technology to do this had to be developed and, moreover, it had to be proved that it did not contaminate the soil.
The working team was managed by Sanz y Berta Gil, Environmental and Agricultural Engineering technician. The tests were run on a typical strawberry soil because it is a very sensitive soil which requires disinfestation each cycle. A disinfestation of 95% was obtained with two 15-minute applications, percentage that can only be surpassed with methyl bromide.