Replacing Chemical Weed Control with Mulch in Commerical Blueberries
While chemicals may provide excellent weed control in blueberry production, they contribute very little to soil organic matter, moisture holding capacity, erosion control, or soil biota.
Objective: To reduce or eliminate the use of chemical herbicides in commercial blueberry production.
Methods: The coordinator purchased and utilized a chipper to produce mulch from weed species of trees that were removed from farm woodlot. He also mulched three-fourths of an acre of blueberries (rows were mulched four feet wide and six inches deep).
Results: Early weed suppression in May and June was very good on all weeds except dandelion. Later in the season some perennial thistles and quackgrass emerged. Plant growth on mulched acres was 10 to 15 percent greater than control. Mulched rows had very little erosion vs. significant erosion in unmulched rows. Moisture retention and infiltration, although not quantified, was increased, and soil organisms such as earthworms and fungi were much more evident in the mulched areas.
North Central Region SARE 1998 Annual Report.