[NAFEX] Newspaper as mulch
b.harrick at ilslaunch.com
Mon Mar 23 06:50:03 EDT 2009
Hi all. This is what the Washington Post sent me re: using newspaper as mulch. The first article is from Sun Chemical and the second is from West Virginia Extension. Barbara zone 6b
Sun Chemical Corporation
631 Central Avenue
Carlstadt, NJ 07072
Tel +1 201 933 4500
Fax +1 201 933 0261
Newsprint Used as Mulch and in Composts
This document is in response to your inquiry regarding the safe use of newsprint as mulch or as compost.
The inks that we supply to newspapers meet all the standards of the Newspaper Association of America (NAA). However, US Ink, a Division of Sun Chemical has not tested the use of newspapers as mulch from either a safety or efficacy standpoint. Accordingly, we did a limited literature search on this subject, with the assistance of NAA and the National Association of Printing Ink Manufacturers (NAPIM).
At the time of the original search, we were able to find only a small amount of information directly relating to the use of newspapers as mulch or compost. However there was considerable information about the use of newspaper as cattle bedding. A more recent internet search has found that there are now many more articles that can be found related to the use of newsprint as mulch.
There is an article taken from the Internet prepared by the University of Illinois, College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, Cooperative Extension Service (© 1995)1, which describes how to use the newspapers as mulch. However, it does contain some inaccurate information regarding the colored newsprint material. It is not true that lead and cadmium compounds would be used in colored comics, colored newspaper pages, or colored inserts. There may be a small possibility that glossy inserts, not printed by the newspaper and not using US Ink products, may use some lead-based pigments. There would no longer be any use of cadmium pigments. There would be no use of lead or cadmium pigments in the colored ink used either in the newspaper itself or in the comics.
There was also mention on the Internet, ("The Garden Patch", Paul Owen Davis, 4/15/97) of two commercial mulches made from newspapers, Bio-Mulch, manufactured by a company in Dorsey, IL; and Garden GuardT, which is a mulch sold by NIMBY, Inc. The latter was discussed on a webpage from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.
Also obtained from the Internet were the following articles on using newspapers as mulch:
Mulching, (feature/backyard/mulching.html), United States Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service
Mighty mulch has many uses, The Sound Gardener column, 6/24/00, (Soundgardener.com)
Are Mulches a Good Idea?, D. O. Porter, Center for Agricultural & Natural Resources Development, West Virginia State University Extension Service, www.wvu.edu/~agexten.
Recycling Newspaper for Mulch in Home Gardens, West Virginia State University Extension Service, www.wvu.edu/~exten
Some related articles found on newspaper use in composting are: The rest of the story on newspapers and composting, Linden Staciokas, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, and Organic Waste Treatments, (FS19), ENFO, Ireland's information service on environmental matters, www.enfo.ie/).
As mentioned above, there are other articles that discuss newsprint use with livestock. These articles principally discuss the safety of using newspapers as cattle bedding, and are considered relevant since they discuss the potential (limited) for uptake of toxics into animal systems.
1 The article "Newspapers - Mulch" was published as part of the Horticulture Solutions Series.
Sun Chemical Corporation
631 Central Avenue
Carlstadt, NJ 07072
Tel +1 201 933 4500
Fax +1 201 933 0261
"A New Story for Old Newspapers", The Sunday Star Ledger, 11/3/93.
"The Safety of Newsprint Bedding", and "Myths About Using Newspaper Bedding for Livestock", Ohio State University Fact Sheet (http://ohioline.ag.ohio-state.edu)
"Newsprint as Animal Bedding", Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection, Pennsylvania Homepage (Internet).
"Livestock Bedding: A New Market for Old News?" Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, Cornell University.
"Assessing The Risks Of Using Recycled Newspapers As Animal Bedding", Institute for Comparative & Environmental Toxicology, Cornell University.
A lengthy report by Penn State University (Pennsylvania Recycling Conference, 1989) concludes in part:
Analysis of newspaper, xerox [sic] copies, and computer printouts at Penn State indicate that heavy metals and other trace elements of concern were present at very low levels and well within safe limits, even if the bedding were consumed by the animals. No apparent animal health problems or milk quality problems were encountered in the Penn State bedding trials or even in feeding studies when prepared newsprint was eaten at levels of 1.8 to 2.4 lb. per head daily.
The use of newspapers for bedding should help provide necessary organic matter in the soil when manures containing it are spread.
US Ink does not vouch for the accuracy or completeness of the information in the articles mentioned above.
Lastly, I should point out that the actual amount of ink present in newspapers is very low, perhaps, roughly 20 lbs. of ink per ton of paper (1%). If you need any additional information, please contact us in the Regulatory Department.
Thomas N. Donvito, Ph. D.
Manager, Regulatory Affairs
Printing Ink Operations, USA
Recycling Newspaper for Mulch in Home Gardens
Managing MSW 8
West Virginia University
When to Apply the Mulch
Soil temperature is the major factor to take into
consideration as you decide when to apply the mulch.
It should be applied after the soil temperature has
reached a minimum of 73 degrees F. Newspaper
mulch will lower the soil temperature slightly. Also,
the mulch acts as an insulating material, which does
not allow the soil to warm after it is applied. Most
plants grow well if the soil temperature is above 70
The second factor to consider is plant height. All
plants should be at least 5 inches tall. This allows for
easy application. Also, by the time plants are 5 inches
tall, the soil should be fairly warm.
Fertilizer to Apply
Apply the fertilizer and lime recommended by a
soil test, or apply 35 pounds of 10-10-10 fertilizer per
1,000 square feet of area. Apply the fertilizer before
you mulch. Keep the fertilizer at least 2 inches away
from the plants. Apply before the final tilling if possible.
Remove all weeds before applying the mulch.
Mulch is effective when it blocks the sun's rays from
weeds and weed seeds. If all weeds are removed,
the mulch will prevent the germination of most seeds.
During the summer, pull any weeds you see growing
through the mulch.
Amount of Mulch to Apply
The amount of mulch applied is vital for weed
control. Too little mulch will allow sunlight to reach the
soil and will allow weed seeds to germinate and grow.
Apply the mulch to a depth of 4 to 5 inches. This
requires 500 pounds of shredded newspaper or 600
pounds of chopped newspaper per 1,000 square feet
of area. Do not worry about applying too much.
Check the mulch often and replace the newspaper in
areas where its depth is too shallow. Sometimes wind
causes newspaper to move until the paper stabilizes
as a mulch.
West Virginia University extension faculty have
done extensive research in using old newspaper as a
mulch in vegetable production. Shredded and
chopped newspaper was found to be the best forms
of paper to use for mulch. Slick pages of any paper
product are not recommended because some inks in
these materials may still contain heavy metals. Most
inks now used have organic soybean oil or petroleum
as a base. Recycling old newspapers into a mulch
material, rather than dumping it in landfills is an
environmentally friendly practice.
If the suggestions in this fact sheet are followed,
newspaper mulch should provide adequate weed
control, improve plant growth, improve fruit cleanliness,
improve color and shape, increase yields, and
help conserve soil moisture.
Where Chopped and Shredded Newspaper
Can be Used as a Mulch
Use newspaper mulch on crops not being grown
for early production. Newspaper mulch will work well
on any crop growing over 5 inches in height.
Sources of Chopped and Shredded
Chopped newspaper is available in small bales in
Grant, Preston, and Randolph counties and in large
bales in Greenbrier County. Currently, shredded
newspaper is available only in Monongalia County.
Some county solid waste authorities are considering
the processing and marketing of chopped newspaper.
It is anticipated that the increased use of old
newspapers for livestock bedding and poultry litter
will result in more newspaper processing facilities
being put into operation at recycling centers and
landfills. These facilities would have the capability of
chopping or shredding and packaging newspaper for
various agricultural uses.
Various size small engine- or tractor PTO-driven
paper chopper/mulchers are available. But it seems
more practical for home gardeners to buy chopped or
shredded packaged newspaper mulch.
At present, recommendations follow two approaches.
One method is to till or disk the mulch
under in the fall to a depth of 2 to 3 inches. Plant
annual rye as a cover crop. This allows the mulch to
decay during the winter.
The second method is not to disturb the mulch.
Early the next spring, move the mulch back 12 inches
per row to allow room for planting and for the soil
temperature to rise to the desired level. Once the
plants are at the desired height and the soil temperature
is adequate, apply the correct amount of mulch
to have 4 or 5 inches around the plants.
Advantages of Using Newspaper Mulch
. Controls weeds
. Keeps fruit cleaner
. Improves color
. Adds organic matter
. Provides good yields
. Utilizes a recyclable material
. Retains moisture
. Provides cooler soils for desired crops
. Is biodegradable
Some results show that there will be fewer disease
problems with the use of mulch. The splashing
effect of rain drops, which may carry disease organisms
onto the plants, is eliminated. However, you
must control diseases by preventive sprays. Use only
approved fungicides on a strict schedule.
Check your vegetables regularly for insect problems.
Use approved insecticides only when the
insects are present in large enough numbers to
cause problems. Read the label and apply only at the
recommended rate according to current label directions.
Extension encourages recycling old newspaper
and other materials for alternative uses rather than
dumping them in landfills.
Programs and activities offered by the West Virginia University Extension Service are available to all persons without regard to race,
color, sex, disability, religion, age, veteran status, sexual orientation or national origin.
Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of
Agriculture. Charles Morris, Interim Director, Cooperative Extension Service, West Virginia University.
Extension Paper Mulch Study Group
John Baniecki, Tom Basden, Mary Beth Bennett, Steve
Bonanno, Ed Collins, Dave Davis, Ron Helmondollar,
Edgar Hooper, Peter Jensen, John Jett, Mike Kubina,
John McCutcheon, Dale Monks, Suzanne Poland,
Juanita Popenoe, Edsel Redden, Ancil Schmidt,
John Scott Jr., Howard Scott, Art Selders, Ed Smolder,
Rodney Wallbrown, Craig Yohn.
This publication resulted from research partially
funded by the following: County Solid Waste
Authorities in Mason, Mercer, Pleasants, Putnam,
Taylor, and Wood counties; Governor's Office; W. Va.
Department of Agriculture; Division of Natural
Resources; Development Office - Energy Efficiency
Program; Mountain Resource Conservation &
Development Area; Document Management
Services; W. Va. Press Association. 4/95
Senior Technical Editor/Writer
International Launch Services
1875 Explorer Street, Suite 700
Reston, VA 20190
office (571) 633-7430
fax (571) 633-7536
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