BIODEGRADABLE MULCHING IN AN ORGANIC TOMATO PRODUCTION SYSTEM
A field experiment was performed in an organic tomato crop for processing under continental Mediterranean conditions (Lleida, Spain) to evaluate the feasibility of substituting the currently used mulch production techniques in organic farming, polyethylene mulch (PE), paper mulch (PA) and bare soil (control), with a biodegradable plastic mulch (MB). Plant growth, estimated as the total dry weight produced, was similar for the MB and PE treatments, and higher than the PA mulch and the control. The highest production, both in terms of total fruit weight and as number of fruit per plant, was found with the MB and PE mulches. Early fruit development was enhanced in plants cultivated with PE and MB and delayed in the Control and PA mulch treatments. Differences between treatments in fruit quality (soluble solids, color and shape) were small and not important. All mulch treatments were successful at weed control. At the end of the cropping period, all treatments showed a good covering of the soil surface but in the buried part of the mulches, the paper was much degraded and the MB showed incipient biodegradation symptoms. Mechanical analyses indicated that the MB had initially a lower resistance and elongation percentage at break point than PE. At the end of the cropping period the PE had a lower average decay (38%) than the MB (45%). These results showed that the MB tested mulch was a good alternative to PE and PA mulches for organic tomato production.
Martín-Closas, L., Bach, M.A. and Pelacho, A.M. (2008). BIODEGRADABLE MULCHING IN AN ORGANIC TOMATO PRODUCTION SYSTEM. Acta Hortic. 767, 267-274
Lycopersicon esculentum, productivity, Mater-Bi, mechanical analysis, paper, biopolymers, degradation, plastic, polyethylene