- Vegetables: cucurbits, tomatoes
- Crop Production: cover crops
- Education and Training: farmer to farmer, on-farm/ranch research, workshop
- Pest Management: mulching - plastic
- Production Systems: general crop production
We compared the production and cost of biodegradable mulch to regular plastic in squash and tomatoes on three farms in Virginia. We planted identical rows next to each other and measured the production throughout the year. We found that biodegradable mulch performs roughly equally with plastic in most situations, but plastic did much better in early squash. We decided that overall biodegradable mulch is a viable alternative to plastic, and that any possible production loss is usually minimal and cancelled out by savings associated with not pulling up and disposing of regular plastic. We recommend using biodegradable mulch on an experimental basis to any vegetable farmer interested in reducing the amount of plastic they generate while saving time and possibly money. We plan to continue our own experiments on a larger scale, to determine how many crops could be converted to bio mulch, and to assess how bio mulch performs in a variety of weather and growing conditions.