The role of mineral nutrients in the increased growth response of tomato plants in solarized soil

José M. Grünzweig*, Jaacov Katan, Yossi Ben-Tal, Haim D. Rabinowitch

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Soil solarization is a non-chemical disinfestation technique that frequently promotes plant growth in the absence of known major pathogens, a phenomenon termed increased growth response (IGR). The effect of solarization on plant nutrients and their role in the IGR was studied with tomato plants grown in solarized or non-solarized (control) sandy soil, under controlled conditions. Solarization considerably increased the soil concentrations of water extractable N, K, Ca, Mg and Na at most sites, whereas Cl and DTPA extractable Mn, Zn, Fe and Cu were decreased by the treatment. Plant growth and specific leaf area were enhanced in solarized as well as in N-supplemented control soil. In tomato plants grown in solarized soil, concentrations of most nutrients in the xylem sap, including N, were increased compared to the control, whereas Cl and SO4 levels decreased. The most significant increase in leaf nutrient concentration caused by soil solarization was recorded for N. Furthermore, leaf N concentration was highly and positively correlated with shoot growth. The concentration of Cu increased in leaves from the solarization vs. the control treatment, whereas that of SO4 and Cl decreased, the latter presumably below the critical toxicity level. The correlation between shoot growth and leaf concentration was positive for Cu and inverse for Cl and SO4. In conclusion, we found that soil solarization significantly affects nutrient composition in tomato plants, and provided strong evidence that N, and eventually also Cl, play a major role in IGR.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)21-27
Number of pages7
JournalPlant and Soil
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 1999


  • Lycopersicon esculentum
  • Nitrogen
  • Plant growth
  • Plant nutrition
  • Soil solarization
  • Tomato


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