Comparing Prairie Grass - Small Grain Straw for Mulching Vegetable Crops

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2008: $2,107.57
Projected End Date: 12/31/2011
Region: North Central
State: Wisconsin
Project Coordinator:
Tony Ends
Scotch Hill Farm


  • Agronomic: oats, wheat
  • Vegetables: beans, brussel sprouts, cabbages, sweet potatoes


  • Pest Management: mulches - general, mulching - vegetative
  • Soil Management: soil quality/health

    Proposal summary:

    Oat and wheat straw used to mulch organic vegetable crop transplants carry distinct advantages over rolled black plastic, contributing soil organic matter, allowing more moisture to penetrate to plants and avoiding labor-intensive removal and landfill tipping fee expenses. Rising fuel and production costs, agro-fuel demand for evermore corn and soybean plantings, and herbicide carry-over concerns, however, pressure small-scale organci vegetable crop growers to seek alternatives. This study examines perennial prairie grass straw as mulch, comparing cost of establishment and maintenance, breakdown and availability to soil fertility, weed suppression and alternative income potential in native species seed harvesting and pheasant hunting fees, with small grains straw mulch production and uses.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.