Weed seed viability is an important parameter to assess the efficacy of soil disinfestation methods like fumigation and steam. In field experiments, seed samples are commonly placed in permeable bags and buried at several depths in soil before the application of soil disinfestation treatments. The seed samples are recovered several days to weeks after treatment and then seed viability is determined in the laboratory. The process of sample installation and recovery is time consuming and may expose personnel to hazardous conditions such as heat or fumigants. Described is a custom soil probe system, developed to simplify installation and recovery of weed seeds from soil. Each soil probe is capable of holding weed seed samples at three different depths up to 30 cm. The following hypothesis was tested: viability of weed seeds is similarly affected by soil disinfestation treatments whether the seeds were contained in the soil probe system or seed bag assays. Two different soil disinfestation trials were conducted: (1) a repeated micro-plot study (USDA Salinas, 1m-2), using steam as a soil disinfestation treatment and (2) a field study in a commercial strawberry field with 1,3-dicloropropene plus chloropicrin (Pic-Clor 60) as soil disinfestation method. In both studies, seed viability of burning nettle, common knotweed, and common purslane (tetrazolium assay) and germination rates of yellow nutsedge tubers were assessed. Results indicate that the soil probe system can be used as an alternative to the seed bag assay to assess weed control efficacy of described soil disinfestation methods.
Nomenclature: 1,3-Dicloropropene; chloropicrin; burning nettle, Urtica urens L.; common knotweed, Polygonum arenastrum Boreau; common purslane, Portulaca oleracea L.; yellow nutsedge Cyperus esculentus L.