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ARS Home » Plains Area » Lubbock, Texas » Cropping Systems Research Laboratory » Cotton Production and Processing Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #236076

Title: Cotton-based hydromulches for seeded bermudagrass establishment

item Holt, Gregory

Submitted to: National Cotton Council Beltwide Cotton Conference
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/8/2009
Publication Date: 5/1/2009
Citation: Guertal, E., Holt, G.A., Van Santen, E. 2009. Cotton-based hydromulches for seeded bermudagrass establishment. In: Proceedings of the Beltwide Cotton Conferences, January 5-8, 2009, San Antonio, Texas. 2009 CDROM. p. 406-410.

Interpretive Summary: Over the years, numerous studies have been conducted evaluating the potential uses for the two million plus tons of cotton gin byproducts produced across the cotton belt of the United States each year. Some of the studies involved investigations into processes that added value to the gin byproducts in hopes of enhancing the materials' usefulness. One of the more successful value-added processes was developed at the USDA-ARS, Cotton Production and Processing Research Unit in Lubbock, TX, in cooperation with Cotton Incorporated and industry partners. The value-added process produced a hydromulch using cotton gin byproducts (cotton-plant materials). The initial pilot plant built to evaluate the manufacture of a hydromulch using cotton gin byproducts on a commercial scale was in Centre, AL. This facility is now known as Mulch & Seed Innovations and commercially produces three brands of hydromulches: GeoskinTM, HydraCMTM, and HydraCX2TM. Previous studies of the cotton plant based hydromulch products showed equal or improved performance over conventional wood and paper-based hydromulches in controlling soil runoff due to rain events. This study was conducted to compare the performance of conventional wood and paper hydromulches to the commercial cotton plant based hydromulches for their ability to produce a bermudagrass stand. Three 10-week long experiments were conducted to evaluate various hydromulch and blanket products versus cotton plant based hydromulches. Bare soil was used as a control. The hydromulches were applied at two rates, 2000 lb/ac and 4000 lb/ac. The results indicate significant improvement of the cotton plant based hydromulches over the conventional hydromulches evaluated in 1) percent ground cover and 2) dry matter production of the bermudagrass. The improvement of the cotton-plant based hydromulches is believed to be due in part to their porosity and low carbon-to-nitrogen ratio compared to the conventional hydromulches.

Technical Abstract: Hydromulches and other mulch covers are commonly used for vegetation establishment on roadsides and other construction sites. The objective of this research project was to evaluate different wood and paper based hydromulches and compare them to newer cotton plant based hydromulches for their ability to produce a bermudagrass groundcover. Research was conducted as three separate greenhouse experiments that included hydromulches, mulch blankets, and a loose straw cover, all compared to bare soil. Hydromulch and blanket treatments included those made from cotton plant based materials that were compared to paper, wood, and other cellulose hydromulches and blankets. Hydromulches made with cotton plant material typically had faster bermudagrass establishment and greater dry matter production over the 10 week evaluation period. Newspaper and wood-based mulches performed poorly, with poor germination and growth from the seeded bermudagrasses. Differences are most likely related to the widely differing C:N (carbon:nitrogen) ratios of the products.