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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Decreasing the Environmental Impacts of Production Practices That Use Plastic Mulch

item Hapeman, Cathleen
item Harman Fetcho, Jennifer
item McConnell, Laura
item Sadeghi, Ali
item Teasdale, John
item Coffman, Charles
item Herbert, Rachel
item Rice, Pamela
item Heighton Davies, Lynne

Submitted to: American Chemical Society National Meeting
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: August 18, 2002
Publication Date: August 18, 2002

Technical Abstract: Runoff volume, soil loss, pesticide loads and toxicity from cultivation practices that utilize plastic mulch were greater than those observed from management practices with vegetative mulches. However, use of plastic mulch for vegetable and other row crop production is widely accepted as it has desirable qualities such as weed control, soil warming, and cleaner crops as compared to bare soil. Other experiments have implicated copper hydroxide associated with soil particles as a causative factor in the observed toxicity, thus controlling soil loss should decrease toxicity and reduce the negative impacts of runoff on surrounding ecosystems. Rye buffer strips between the plastic-covered rows were tested as means to control this soil loss. Results from a two-year study comparing plastic mulch with and without buffer strips indicated a greater than two-fold decrease in runoff volume and soil loss in the buffer strip plots. Pesticide (chlorothanil, endosulfan, and fenvalerate) loads were significantly less and runoff toxicity was reduced. Finally, no statistically significant differences in harvest yields were observed.

Last Modified: 4/21/2015