DURING a trip to the Arava Desert in Israel in 2011, we learned how they sterilize their soil to kill harmful microorganisms. They call the technique solar sterilization.
First, the soil is rotavated and then covered with plastic. The covered soil will heat up to 65 degrees Celsius. The cover is removed after 45 days and then planting starts shortly.
We also observed the same technique at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) in Hyderabad, India.
In the past, the standard technique to sterilize the soil is the application of bromide, a synthetic chemical.