Brassicaceae plants (mustard family) contain chemicals called glucosinolates. These compounds are present in the leaves, stems, roots, and seeds of the plants. When the plant biomass is incorporated into the soil, these glucosinolates are broken down into a number of secondary compounds, including a compound called isothiocyanate. Isothiocyanate can be biocidal to seeds, insects, nematodes, and other microbes (fungi, bacteria, etc.). In recent years, plant breeders have worked to develop varieties of mustards with high glucosinolate content to be used as biofumigants in crop production. These high glucosinolate mustards (HGM) are being used as cover crops and the entire plant biomass is incorporated into the soil. Interestingly, mustards can also be used as oilseed crops with a potential use in biofuel production. Extraction of the oil from the seed produces a meal that is also high in glucosinolates as well as nitrogen. Hence, the meal used as a soil amendment could potentially provide nutrients and suppress weeds, pests, and diseases.


Vermont, University of Vermont

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