American scientists are experimenting with mustard to rid crops of worms, weeds and fungus as an alternative to using chemical herbicides and pesticides.

Researchers from the USA's Agricultural Research Service used white and brown mustard seeds and rapeseed to naturally make soil toxic to weeds and pests. This "biofumigation" process occurs when the mustard compounds decompose, releasing isothiocyanates (ITCs).

Greenhouse studies using mustard saw up to 50% of weeds failing to sprout and between 70% and 80% of parasites being destroyed in potted irises. The ARS is unsure however, whether pests die from direct contact with ITC's or biological changes to the soil.