Trials examine high tunnels combined with biodegredable mulch

09/22/2011 07:00:00 AM
Vicky Boyd

An old addage says you can't control Mother Nature.

But a Texas AgriLife Extension vegetable specialist hopes high tunnels combined with biodegredable mulch will help growers make headway against the formidable foe.

Russ Wallace, who's also an associate professor of horticulture, is midway through a three-year study and says he believes the technologies are viable, according to a news release.

Although high tunnels, which resemble plastic-covered Quonset huts, have been used elsewhere for years, they're relatively new to the High Plains.

They protect crops, as do greenhouses. But high tunnels are not heated or humidified like greenhouses are.

As part of the study, Wallace is comparing various types of biodegredable mulches that include paper and plastic.

The theory is the material breaks down at the end of the season, reducing the labor needed to remove and dispose of the spent mulch.

Wallace says it's too early in the trials to say which mulch works best.

Also unknown is whether the high tunnel system, along with the mulch, will be cost-effective for vegetable producers.



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