Description of practice

Physical disease control involves targeted applications of hot water, steam, hot air, fire or flooding to combat plant diseases. It can also include actions and barriers to avoid contamination.

Examples of how to use physical disease control Further information
(see Note below)

AMP79 01

Hot water seed treatment

Seeds are treated with hot water as an effective way to kill pathogens (especially bacteria and viruses) without affecting seed quality.


»Territorial Seed Company

AMP79 02


Soil solarization

The soil surface is covered with transparent plastic film, taking advantage of solar radiation to heat the soil to temperatures that are lethal to many fungal pathogens and nematodes.



AMP79 03

Soil steam sterilization

Soil in open fields or greenhouses is sterilized using steam. The steam kills plant pathogens (bacteria, fungi, viruses) by causing vital cellular proteins to unfold.


»Soil-steaming &

AMP79 04

Burning crop and pruning residues

For diseases for which no cure exists, infected crop and pruning residues are burned as a last resort option. Burning is an effective control of all kinds of pathogens.


»Scientific American - Latza Nadeau

AMP79 05


Temporary flooding is used as an effective method to control plant-parasitic nematodes and other soilborne pathogens.


»Cornell University

AMP79 06

Cleaning farming equipment

Farming equipment is cleaned to remove contaminated debris and soil that can harbor pathogens (such as Verticillium or nematodes) and prevent their introduction into non-infested fields.



AMP79 07

Pre-harvest fruit bagging

Bags are placed around the growing fruit as a means of physical protection. They: improve the visual quality of fruit by promoting skin colouration, reducing blemishes, sunburn and cracking; change the micro-environment for fruit development; reduce the incidence of disease, insect and bird damage; and reduce agrochemical residues.



»Journal of Horticultural Science and Biotechnology- Sharma et al.

Note: Most of the Further information links are to a full description of the example in the WOCAT database. However sometimes the link may be to similar practices or a research paper. Occasionally the link is to a commercial product in which case it should be understood that this does not imply any endorsement of the product by iSQAPER.

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