Polyethylene (PE) mulch needs to be removed from the field at the end of the growing season. Even though PE mulch is removed, fragments usually remain causing concerns about soil health. Soil-biodegradable mulch (BDM) is designed to be tilled into the soil at the end of the season. Fragments of BDM still remain in the soil as it degrades and there is concern that these residual fragments could also impact soil health. Studies to date show that BDMs do not have immediate negative impacts on soil health. However, the potential for long term effects need to be studied.
Fact Sheets & Articles
- New! In-Field Biodegradation of Soil-Biodegradable Mulch
- Ask Dr. Universe: Why Do Non-biodegradables Decay Slowly?
- Is Biodegradable Plastic Mulch the Solution to Agriculture’s Plastic Problem? (PDF)
- Soil Fumigation and Soil-Biodegradable Plastic Mulch (PDF)
- Using Mesh Bags to Assess Degradation of Soil-biodegradable Plastic Mulches
- Bailes, G., Lind, M., Ely, A., Powell, M., Moore-Kucera, J., Miles, C., Inglis, D., and Brodhagen, M. 2013. Isolation of Native Soil Microorganisms with Potential for Breaking Down Biodegradable Plastic Mulch Films Used in Agriculture. J. Vis. Exp. (75), e50373, doi:10.3791/50373.
- Brodhagen, M., J.R. Goldberger, D.G. Hayes, D.A. Inglis, T.L. Marsh, and C. Miles. 2017. Policy considerations for limiting unintended residual plastic in agricultural soils. Environ. Sci. Policy, 69:81–84.
- Cowan, J.S., A. Saxton, H. Liu, K. Leonas, D. Inglis, and C. Miles. 2016. Visual assessments of biodegradable mulch deterioration are not indicative of mulch degradation. HortSci. 51:245-254.
- Cowan, J.S., D.A. Inglis, and C.A. Miles. 2013. Deterioration of three potentially biodegradable plastic mulches before and after soil incorporation in a broccoli field production system in Northwestern Washington. HortTechnology 23:849-858.
- Ghimire, S., A.M. Saxton, A.L. Wszelaki, J.C. Moore, and C. A. Miles. 2017. Reliability of soil sampling method to assess visible biodegradable mulch fragments remaining in the field after soil incorporation. HortTechnology 27:650-658.
- Li C., J. Moore-Kucera, J. Lee, A. Corbin, M. Brodhagen, C. Miles, and D. Inglis. 2014. Effects of biodegradable mulch on soil quality. Applied Soil Ecology 79:59-69.
- Moore-Kucera, J., S.B. Cox, M. Peyron, G. Bailes, K. Kinloch, K. Karich, C. Miles, D.A. Inglis, and M. Brodhagen. 2014. Native soil fungi associated with compostable plastics in three contrasting agricultural settings. Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology 98: 6467-6485.
- Saglam, M., H.Y. Sintim, A.I. Bary, C.A. Miles, S. Ghimire, D.A. Inglis, and M. Flury. 2017. Modeling the effect of biodegradable paper and plastic mulch on soil moisture dynamics. Agric. Water Manage. 193:240-250.
- Sintim, H., A. Bary, D. Hayes, L. Wadsworth, M. Anunciado, M. English, S. Bandopadhyay, S. Schaeffer; J. DeBruyn, C. Miles, J. Reganold, and M. Flury. 2020. In situ degradation of biodegradable plastic mulch films in compost and agricultural soils. Science of The Total Environment 727:138668.
- Sintim, H., A. Bary, D. Hayes, M. English, S. Schaeffer, C. Miles, A. Zelenyuk, K. Suski, and M. Flury. 2019. Release of micro- and nanoparticles from biodegradable plastic during in situ composting. System for Science of the Total Environment 675:686–693.
- Sintim, H., S. Bandopadhyay, M. English, A. Bary, J. DeBruyn, S. Schaeffer, C. Miles, J. Reganold, and M. Flury. 2019. Impacts of biodegradable plastic mulches on soil health. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 273:36-49.
- Zhang, H., C. Miles, M. Flury, H. Liu, and L.W. DeVetter. 2020. Soil-biodegradable plastic mulches undergo minimal in-soil degradation in a perennial raspberry system after 18 months. Horticulturae 6(3):47.