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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Morris, Minnesota » Soil Management Research » Research » Research Project #440478

Research Project: MulcH2O: Biodegradable Composite Hydromulches for Sustainable Organic Horticulture

Location: Soil Management Research

Project Number: 5060-11610-004-004-R
Project Type: Reimbursable Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Sep 1, 2021
End Date: Aug 31, 2025

Overall CAP objective: Our goal is to develop advanced crop production systems that enable high-yielding maize and soybean production, while improving soil and water quality, providing large increases in the availability of lignocellulosic feedstocks, and preserving or increasing farm income. Specific objectives are Objective 1: Quantify perennial soil cover effects on soil health indicators; Objective 2: Quantify perennial soil cover effects on nutrient cycling and loss; Objective 3: Quantify effect of perennial covers on soil greenhouse gas emissions.

The primary objective of the project is to develop and test biodegradable hydro-applied surface mulches for weed suppression and compatibility in organic horticultural production systems. This will involve evaluations in five different areas: 1) develop and evaluate new formulations of hydro-applied biodegradable mulches for organic farming operations; 2) innovate and test application technologies for hydro-applied biodegradable mulches, applicable for both small and medium/large scale horticultural production systems; 3) evaluate weed suppression and crop yield response compared to an industry-standard control mulch, polyethylene or polypropylene mulches, and/or bare ground; 4) assess biodegradable mulch impacts on soil carbon and nutrients/crop nutrition and 5) conduct cost-benefit analyses to assess economic impacts and feasibility, including supply chains for materials, logistics, and labor.