A foam mulching system to control weeds in tomatoes and sweet basil

John Masiunas, Elizabeth Wahle, Laurel Barmore, Albert Morgan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

A foam mulch system was developed that can be applied as an aqueous mixture of cotton and cellulose fibers, gums, starches, surfactants and saponins and dries to an one inch thick mat. This mulch may overcome the difficulty in applying and lack of persistence with natural mulches. Foam mulch also has the advantage of being able to be incorporated into the soil without requiring disposal like some plastic mulches. The objective of our study was to determine the effect of foam mulch and its color on weed control within the crop row and on yields of basil (Ocimum basilicum) and tomatoes (Lycopersicon esculentum). The foam mulch maintained its integrity for the entire growing season and provided weed control within the crop row comparable to black plastic mulch. The only weeds that emerged in the crop row were through holes in either the black or foam mulch. Foam mulch color did not affect weed control because regardless of color it did not allow light penetration and served as a physical barrier impeding weed emergence. Basil shoot biomass was not affected by mulch treatment. Mulch color affected early, ripe fruit, and total yield of tomato. Tomato yields in the blue foam were greater than other treatments. Yields in the black foam mulch were similar to those in black plastic mulch. Further research is needed to characterize the effects of foam mulch on crop microenvironment. Currently foam mulch is being commercialized for use in the home landscape and other high-value situations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)324-328
Number of pages5
JournalHortTechnology
Volume13
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2003

Keywords

  • Lycopersicon esculentum
  • Mulch color
  • Natural mulch
  • Ocimum basilicum
  • Weed control

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Horticulture

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