Soil Sterilization And Partial Sterilization Techniques

A number of the techniques mentioned above involve drastic perturbations to soils, such as fumigation, for the purpose of determining numbers or biomasses of organisms residing within them. Huhta et al. (1989) examined the influence of microwave radiation on soil processes, noting that it seems to have a less drastic impact compared to autoclaving, gamma irradiation, or chloroform fumigation. Microwaving is particularly useful for removing various mesofaunal groups, leaving the micro-bial communities reasonably intact under moderate thermal energy inputs of 380 watts (W) for 3 minutes (Huhta et al., 1989; Wright et al., 1989). Unfortunately, some unwanted side effects were introduced with microwaving, principally a decreased water-holding capacity. Monz et al. (1991) found that microwaving was of limited use in their agricultural soils. We discuss methods to manipulate fauna, including group-specific chemical inhibitors or repellents, in Chapter 4.

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