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Application & Management

Soil-biodegradable mulches (BDMs) can be applied using the same tools and equipment used to apply conventional plastic mulch with some modifications to take into account differences in material properties. Mechanical strength of polyethylene (PE) mulch is greater than that of BDMs. It is important to adjust the mulch tension when laying BDMs to avoid tears during the application process. Resources on this page provide guidelines on mulch laying so growers can properly apply BDMs on their farms.

Management of BDMs is similar to other mulches. However, significant rips and tears may need to be repaired if they occur shortly after application and have the potential to interfere with crop performance. Note, however, BDMs will naturally degrade over time and some breakdown is expected before soil incorporation at the end of the cropping season. This breakdown should not be perceived as a “mulch failure”, but is how BDMs are designed to perform.

Scientific Publications

Additional Resources

USDA NIFA (logo)
Award nos. 2022-51181-38325, 2019-51181-30012 & 2014-51181-22382

Western Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SARE) (logo)


WSDA Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (logo)

Washington Raspberries (logo)


Improving end-of-life management of plastic mulch in strawberry systems