Biodegradable mulch – a solution for small-scale horticulture?
This article in The international journal Rural 21, focusses on the use of a biodegradable alternative to polyethylene sheeting. Polyethylene sheeting is widely used in vegetable growing to create optimum mulch conditions for seedlings. It helps to control weeds, conserves soil moisture and increases soil temperature which generally has a positive effect on vegetable yield and quality. However, it is a considerable environmental hazard. The World Vegetable Center has tested a biodegradable alternative, which is simultaneously labour- and time-saving, arriving at the result that it is promising but not yet practical. AVRDC plans further trials to fine-tune information on biodegradable mulch material thicknesses, quality and their degradation rates over the length of the growing season for specific crops in subsequent seasons.