Project news Residual soil cleaned and returned to the field?

23/08/2021

Decontamination of residual soil from potatoes and root vegetables to eliminate nematodes and chufa (yellow nut sedge), as well as setting up a pilot plant at a processing plant: these are the goals of the follow-up project to "Restaarde Circulair".

chufa or yellow nut sedge
chufa or yellow nut sedge - photo credit: Blahedo

The "Restaarde Circulair (Circular Residual Soil) 2" project builds on an initial project of the same name. The aim here is to further search for a feasible way to decontaminate residual soil to make it free of nematodes. Moreover, this time the researchers are also taking a closer look at the contamination with chufa (yellow nut sedge), a noxious weed. The intention is to rid residual soil of these contaminations so that the risk of contamination between fields drops to nil. Nematodes and chufa are spread passively, mainly via contaminated soil that comes along with harvested potato tubers and root vegetables. The soil is removed at the processor or packer and then disposed of. Especially for potatoes imported from other countries this is a problem because of the European legislation concerning the transport of soil.


In the previous Restaarde Circulair project it turned out to be possible to kill quarantine nematodes (ILVO) via heating. This research is now extended to chufa (UGent) and scaled up to practical scale. Partner UGent is investigating the feasibility of using microwave technology, fluidized bed heating or steam injection to create the necessary heating conditions to kill potato cysts and chufa. The Soil Science Service of Belgium controls the quality of the residual soil after heating. Flanders' Food coordinates this COOCK project and ensures the transfer of the new technology to practice.

The technique will be validated by building a pilot installation at a potato processing company, if the necessary conditions for heating, and thus killing off cysts and chufa, appear to be feasible. Potato processing companies in particular are potential customers for this technology, but also processors of beets and field vegetables. The fact that the sector supports this research, also financially (COOCK project), shows the relevance of this project.

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Nicole Viaene

Plant health expert

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