A Biodegradable Thin-Film Mulching System for Weed Suppression in Commercial Crop Production

Period of Performance: 01/01/2009 - 12/31/2009

$78K

Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Technical Designs Inc.
401 West Aycock St.
Raleigh, NC 27608
Principal Investigator

Abstract

Weeds reduce the productivity of vegetable crops. Noxious weeds like nutsedge can contaminate a field in one and a half years. To remediate the weed cost, $7,000 to $11,000 for plastic, fumigant and hand weeding is necessary in strawberries. In southern California, 10 to 20 percent of the farmland has a high-density infestation of nutsedge. Methyl bromide applied at high levels is partially effective with controlling nutsedge and most other fumigants have little effect on nutsedge population. Methyl bromide is being phased out and EPA is extending boundaries from homes where fumigants can be used. Organic growers have few alternatives for weed control other than cover crops, cultivation, heavy mulching and hand weeding. In previous research, we have documented 99.9% nutsedge control with our paper under plastic. Later, a sprayable version of the paper has demonstrated good nutsedge control when applied as directed. This research takes the winning aspects of each method and provides a superior applied product for organic weed suppression. EarthSkin is manufactured and applied using less water than other methods. EarthSkin eliminates the need for petroleum based plastic films in non-fumigated areas and organic crops. The applied product gives a continuous covering, resists blow off and shrinkage. The crop can be planted by piercing the mulch and setting a plant or setting a seed. Alternatively, by incorporating the small seed over the top of EarthSkin which roots through to grow to harvest lettuce without weeds or soil on the leaf. EarthSkin is covered under US Patent.