[Market-farming] Bio- Plastics vs. plastic mulch

Road's End Farm organic87 at frontiernet.net
Tue Mar 15 16:53:18 EDT 2011

On Mar 15, 2011, at 3:43 PM, Sue Wells wrote:

> Does anyone else have comments on Weed Guard Plus? Is this better  
> than Bio tel?
> Sue
> Vermont

My comments on all such materials:

1) Check that the specific material actually breaks down leaving no  
harmful residues. There has at one time or another been a lot of stuff  
on the market being sold as "biodegradable" that didn't actually meet  
such standards. -- If it's acceptable for use by organic certifying  
agencies, somebody outside the company selling it should have checked  
this. If it isn't, there are multiple possible reasons, but I'd  
recommend doing your own checking. And I wouldn't assume that because  
it's in a garden catalogue claiming it as "organic" that it does in  
fact meet current standards; I still sometimes see items so advertised  
that I know are not acceptable. When the USDA limited the use of the  
word for food products, they declined to limit it for companies  
selling garden and farm supplies.

2) Try the material out on a small scale in your own operation before  
relying on it. Speed of breakdown can vary considerably depending on  
weather, climate, soil type, and the microorganisms in the particular  
soil. I've had edges buried in soil break down almost immediately  
after planting, with the result that the wind picked the material up  
and flipped it over the top of young transplants, doing damage. This  
was some years ago, and may not apply to materials currently on the  
market; but you do need to check on your own place, in case the  
particular material won't last as long as you need it to, in your  
particular soil, for your particular uses. Also, some materials may be  
hard to lay with some equipment, or may need different adjustment of  
the equipment than you're used to, so that laying them properly may  
take practice.

-- Rivka; Finger Lakes NY, Zone 5 mostly
Fresh-market organic produce, small scale

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