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Performance of bell pepper on a biodegradable mulch 2006

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Title: Performance of bell pepper on a biodegradable mulch 2006
Author: Zandstra, J.W.; Squire, R.C.
Abstract: 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, soil, and 10 dark biodegradable mulches, and to document the degradation of the mulch.
Description: The degree of soil heating provided by the biodegradable mulches varied; Mater-Bi green mulch tended to heat the soil the greatest, likely due to its translscent nature (Table 1). Many fruit characteristics of peppers grown on biodegradable mulches did not differ from peppers grown on standard plastic or bare soil in 2006 (Table 2). Fruit length and diameter did not differ across any treatments; however fruit weights were greatest when grown on Eco Light and Mater-Bi brown film. The smallest fruit weights were found on plants grown on Brampton 350 mulch; while this may be due to the rapid breakdown and loss of benefits of the mulch, all the other “Brampton” series mulches degraded at a similar rate, but did not demonstrate this reduction in fruit weight. Early yields, total yields and fruit per plant did not differ significantly within mulch treatments; however bare soil tended to be reduced for these variables (Table 3). The various mulches degraded at different rates, with the “Brampton” mulches breaking up shortly after it was laid. The “N” series mulches, as well as Mater-Bi brown and green also degraded much quicker than desired for a season long crop like pepper (Table 4), and many weeds became established in these plots.
Date: 2006
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