In Israel it is apparently a common practice to seal planting beds in clear plastic about 6 weeks before planting. This sprouts weed seeds, destroys insects, (wonder about beneficials) and warms the soil for better seed germination. Have any of you tried this?
I've tried it. Yes, it kills the beneficial insects and soil microorganisms, too. While it killed a lot of weeds, it didn't kill the deep rooted grasses like bermuda, so I ended up worse off than I started. And most of my insect pests can fly, so there's no getting rid of them so easily.
This might be one of those things that works in some places but not other.
To my knowledge it is not common practice to solarize soil in Israel. Israel is a huge agrochemical user, producer and exporter. That said, they are always looking for new and better farming methods. Soil solarization is heavily practiced in South Florida as well as Israel. I grew up in S. FL and am familiar with farm practices there. Also have many friends who have worked farm kibbutzem in Israel. The main reason Israeli farms solarize is to kill soil pathogens, not weeds or bugs. In Florida they reduce nematode populations on sandy farm land with solarization. The process is more complicated than throwing plastic over soil. The soil is mulched, watered and then solarized. To kill weeds and weed seedlings effectively using plastic mulch you should use black mulch to block light. Many weed seeds can survive extreme heat but nothing can grow without light.