Biodegradable Plastic Mulch

Transplanting tomatoes in biodegradable mulch test plots under high tunnel.
Transplanting tomatoes in biodegradable mulch test plots under high tunnel.

Biodegradable mulches are manufactured alternatives to plastic mulch and, ideally, provide the same benefits as plastic mulch (weed control, soil temperature moderation, soil moisture retention, and soil conservation). They also offer the added benefit of being 100% biodegradable, either in the field, soil or in composting, with no formation of toxic residues.


  • Nonwoven Fabric

    A fabric made directly from a web of fiber, without the yarn preparation necessary for weaving and knitting. In a nonwoven, the assembly of textile fibers is held together (i) by mechanical interlocking in a random web or mat; (ii) by fusing of the fibers, as in the case of thermoplastic fibers; or (iii) by bonding with a cementing medium such as starch, casein, rubber latex, a cellulose derivative or synthetic resin. Initially, the fibers may be oriented in one direction or may be deposited in a random manner. This web or sheet is then bonded together by one of the methods described above. Fiber ... » More ...

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New Research

The University of Tennessee, Washington State University and Montana State University are studying the process of degradation, ease and acceptance of use, and economics of biodegradable mulches for specialty crop production. This multi-university and Extension partnership is determining whether the profitability and sustainability of specialty crop production can be increased through the adoption of biodegradable plastic mulches. Biodegradable mulches can provide the weed-suppression, water conservation, and crop yield benefits available through the standard practice of mulching with plastic, yet they may not require removal and disposal. Impact on soil, productivity, and farm economics are the focus. Read more…