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  • Author or Editor: David A. Munn x
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This study compared shredded newspaper, wheat straw (Triticum aestivum L.) mulch, and bare soil as surface treatments under sweet corn [Zea mays L., var. Saccharata (Surt.)], field corn (Z. mays L.), soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merr.], and processing tomatoes (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.). In a replicated study with limited mechanical weed control and no chemical weed control in 1990, and no weed control except for the mulch in 1991, the mulches provided a cooler, moister soil environment and effective suppression of most annual and some perennial weeds. The rank order of yields was the same for all three crops in 1990: newspaper mulch > wheat straw mulch > bare soil cover. In 1991 the rank order for yield was: soybeans/newspaper mulch > wheat straw > bare soil (P < 0.01); field corn/newspaper mulch > bare soil > wheat straw (P > 0.10). The straw and newspaper mulches had similar effects on yield, weed control, soil moisture, and soil temperature. They were significantly different from bare soil in many crop and mulch combinations studied. A brief evaluation of high rates of newspaper mulch showed no apparent growth problems for corn and soybeans and no heavy metal accumulation in the soil. Since shredded newspaper from community recycling programs in available at low cost ($40-50/ton vs. $90-100/ton for straw), this material is an attractive soil-management alternative in horticultural and agronomic production systems.

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