Sheet Mulch Using Cardboard and NFTs

Project Overview

FW19-348
Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2019: $11,000.00
Projected End Date: 07/31/2022
Grant Recipient: Takai Farm
Region: Western
State: Guam
Principal Investigator:
Glenn Takai
Takai Farm

Commodities

  • Fruits: citrus, papaya
  • Vegetables: peppers

Practices

  • Crop Production: windbreaks
  • Pest Management: mulches - general
  • Soil Management: green manures

    Proposal summary:

    Sheet Mulch Using Cardboard & Nitrogen Fixing Trees (NFTs)

    In all the crops I grow the most problematic issue I face is weed management.  I have tried various methods of controlling weeds on different crops whether short or long term.  In Guam, weeds grow at a very fast pace.  Currently, I pull weeds along with hired help for fast growing crops such as cucumbers and long beans.  In longer term crops such as papaya, hot peppers and calamansi, I use herbicide and bush cutting (commercial high powered gas trimmers) to suppress weeds.  Bush cutting is a highly used method of grass cutting in Guam due to rocky uneven surfaces.  These bush cutters do extensive damage to crops and can be very costly.   A secondary problem is that my farm is cultivated year after year often without periods of fallow.  The soil has no time to recover and methods of building up soil are low to none.

    I intend to approach this problem using sheet mulch as a solution.  Profit margins are impacted because the cost to control weeds coupled with reduced production.  Cardboard is an abundant resource in our remote island due to high imports creating much waste into the landfill.  I would like to research the effects of using cardboard and NFTs as sheet mulch to manage weeds as well as improve soil quality through adding organic matter.  The NFTs will be established along the perimeter of the farm to be used as a windbreak.  Commercial farmers on island often use plastic mulch and spray herbicide as a means to control weeds.  This solution provides organic matter into soils while recycling landfilled cardboard.  I will conduct a workshop as well as on site demonstrations for other farmers to observe.  The data I would collect will include labor hours saved through mulching, production, and compared pre and post soil samples.  

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Objectives:

    1. Research the cost analysis and production of farmed crops with and without sheet mulch
    2. Research the quality of soil before and after farming crops via soil samples 
    3. Establish perimeter windbreak of Nitrogen Fixing Trees (NFTs)
    4.  Create a storage facility for cardboard boxes on site
    5.   Design a field layout having row plots of beds with and without sheet mulch
    6. Mulch planted rows with proper amounts of cardboard and NFTs in accordance with proper carbon:nitrogen ratios
    7. Conduct a workshop showing the costs and considerations of sheet mulching, soil and plant health, and production
    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.