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Study finds 2 biodegradable mulches to be suitable polyethylene alternatives
Date:2/25/2014

e-plot treatments with three biodegradable mulch products: BioAgri, Crown 1, and SB-PLA-11. Two subplot soil treatments--mulched and bare ground--were applied in the second growing season over half of each plot where mulch had been previously incorporated into the soil. 'Castle Dome' broccoli was grown in for the study as a late summer-fall crop. The researchers performed in-season visual assessments on each mulched subplot to evaluate visible signs of deterioration.

"As measured by percent visual deterioration (PVD), deterioration of the plastic films BioAgri and Crown 1 occurred more rapidly during the growing season than SB-PLA-11," the authors noted. "Holes began to appear in Crown 1 within 2 weeks of installation in both years. Within 4 to 6 weeks, Crown 1 had split down the center. Once the splits began to expand laterally, primarily due to wind action, PVD increased notably."

Like Crown 1, BioAgri also began to display holes 2 to 3 weeks after installation and BioAgri split down the center, typically between transplant holes, but not until 8 to 12 weeks after installation. "It is important to note that when splits expanded, the mulch bunched at the edges of the split," Cowan said. "Although this is not deterioration per se, this bunching formed creases which later split, effectively accelerating actual deterioration."

The team concluded that two of the mulches evaluated in the study--BioAgri and Crown 1--deteriorated to a sufficient extent that they could meet National Organic Standards Board recommendations regarding biodegradation for certified organic production. "Both mulches retained enough integrity throughout the growing season to inhibit weed growth. Thus, both mulches could be a suitable alternative to polyethylene mulch for broccoli production in the Pacific Northwest," the researchers said.


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Contact: Michael W. Neff
mwneff@ashs.org
703-836-4606
American Society for Horticultural Science
Source:Eurekalert

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