Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Forget Plastic Mulch For Tomato Production: Biodegradable Mulch Films On The Horizon

Date:
February 26, 2009
Source:
American Society for Horticultural Science
Summary:
With more than 30 million acres of agricultural land worldwide covered with over one million tons of plastic mulch, the recent trend toward "going green" has caused researchers to seek environmentally friendlier solutions that can still provide earlier crop maturity, higher yields, and increased quality. Agricultural researchers compared black and white biodegradable mulch films to traditional plastic mulch for use in tomato production.

In 1999, more than 30 million acres of agricultural land worldwide were covered with plastic mulch, and those numbers have been increasing significantly since then. With the recent trend toward "going green", researchers are seeking environmentally friendlier alternatives to conventional plastic mulch.

Plastic mulch can provide earlier crop maturity, higher yields, increased quality, improved disease and insect resistance, and more efficient water and fertilizer use, but carries a high cost financially and environmentally when it comes to removing the estimated one million tons of mulch film used internationally each year.

Mathieu Ngouajio, of the Department of Horticulture at Michigan State University, led a study comparing black and white biodegradable mulch films in two thicknesses to traditional plastic mulch in the production of tomato. The results of the study were published in the American Society for Horticultural Science journal HortTechnology.

The lowest soil temperatures were identified with the white films, which is also associated with the white film's higher rate of degradation. Breakdown of white mulch occurred early and exposed the bed for weed growth, creating competition for nutrients between weeds and tomato. As the weeds grew, they tore the mulch, leading to further degradation. Furthermore, the weeds hosted a large insect population that reduced the quality of the tomato.

"The [conventional] LDPE mulch provided 100% weed control in both years, which confirms why this is the preferred mulch used by most vegetable growers," Ngouajio remarked. Weed control levels for both thicknesses of the black biodegradable mulch were more than 90%. Black biodegradable mulch performed well in the field, producing tomato crops similar to conventional mulch during both years of the study.

The study authors explain that there are three factors to be resolved before black biodegradable mulch can be seen as a viable replacement for conventional methods. First, more research is needed to produce mulch that can fully break down in the field. Second, biodegradable mulch must be able to withstand the stresses of being applied to fields by machine. Last, the price of biodegradable mulch needs to be economically acceptable compared to conventional mulch after factoring in the savings for removal and disposal.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Society for Horticultural Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Ngouajio, Mathieu, Auras, Rafael, Fernandez, R. Thomas, Rubino, Maria, Counts, James W., Jr, Kijchavengkul, Thitisilp. Field Performance of Aliphatic-aromatic Copolyester Biodegradable Mulch Films in a Fresh Market Tomato Production System. HortTechnology, 2008 18: 605-610 [link]

Cite This Page:

American Society for Horticultural Science. "Forget Plastic Mulch For Tomato Production: Biodegradable Mulch Films On The Horizon." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 February 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090226141142.htm>.
American Society for Horticultural Science. (2009, February 26). Forget Plastic Mulch For Tomato Production: Biodegradable Mulch Films On The Horizon. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090226141142.htm
American Society for Horticultural Science. "Forget Plastic Mulch For Tomato Production: Biodegradable Mulch Films On The Horizon." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090226141142.htm (accessed October 1, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Earth Has Lost Half Its Vertebrate Wildlife Since 1970: WWF

Earth Has Lost Half Its Vertebrate Wildlife Since 1970: WWF

Newsy (Sep. 30, 2014) A new study published by the World Wide Fund for Nature found that more than half of the world's wildlife population has declined since 1970. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dolphins Might Use Earth's Magnetic Field As A GPS

Dolphins Might Use Earth's Magnetic Field As A GPS

Newsy (Sep. 30, 2014) A study released Monday suggests dolphins might be able to sense the Earth's magnetic field and possibly use it as a means of navigation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How To Battle Stink Bug Season

How To Battle Stink Bug Season

Newsy (Sep. 30, 2014) Homeowners in 33 states grapple with stink bugs moving indoors at this time of year. Here are a few tips to avoid stink bug infestations. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
California University Designs Sustainable Winery

California University Designs Sustainable Winery

Reuters - US Online Video (Sep. 27, 2014) Amid California's worst drought in decades, scientists at UC Davis design a sustainable winery that includes a water recycling system. Vanessa Johnston reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins