Since its introduction in the 1950s, black plastic (polyethylene plastic) mulch has been the primary tool used to reduce weed competition in both high tunnels and open fields, control water loss, raise soil temperature, increase plant production, and shorten harvest time.
Plastic mulch is commonly used to control weeds in the crop row, moderate soil temperature and conserve water in the plant root zone. There are many different colors and qualities of plastic mulch, and use varies depending on the season and crop being grown. There are also degradable mulches made of cornstarch and paper, and plastic mulches that are heat and/or light degradable.
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