Performance of bell pepper on a biodegradable mulch
Fresh market pepper growers use dark plastic mulch to warm the soil and advance maturity when planted early in the season. These plastics also help retain soil moisture and suppress weed growth. Disposal of the plastic at the end of the season is presently not a problem in Ontario, but it has become an issue in other vegetable production regions of North America. It has been estimated that in excess of 500 tons of agricultural plastic is disposed of yearly in Ontario; plastic mulches are a significant contributor to this total. Recently, biodegradable mulch films have become available, which break down through microbial activity in the soil. Data is required on the length of time the biodegradable mulch will last in the field, and its effects on crop growth, yield and quality. The objectives of this trial were to compare the performance of bell pepper on standard black plastic mulch and 3 biodegradable clear mulches, and to document the degradation of the mulch.