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S. Christopher Marble, Shawn T. Steed, Debalina Saha and Yuvraj Khamare

Mulches have been evaluated extensively as a weed management tool in container plant production, but most research has focused on loose-fill wood-derived mulch materials, such as pine bark or wood chips. In this experiment, pine (mixed Pinus sp.) bark (PB), shredded hardwood (HW), and pine sawdust were evaluated for weed control and crop response both alone and in combination with a guar gum tackifier alongside a plastic film mulch, a paper slurry mulch, and the paper slurry mulch + PB and compared with a nonmulched, nontreated control and a single application of preemergence herbicide (oxyfluorfen + pendimethalin). Mulch materials were applied to nursery containers ranging from 7 to 25 gal at two different nurseries and at two research centers in central Florida in 2017 and 2018. Results showed that the plastic mulch provided more than a 90% reduction in hand weeding time and weed weight over a 6-month period, and similar control was achieved with PB, paper slurry + PB, and the HW treatment (64% to 91% reduction in weeding time and weed weight). No growth differences were observed with any mulch treatment in any species evaluated including ligustrum (Ligustrum japonicum), Chinese elm (Ulmus parvifolia), or podocarpus (Podocarpus macrophyllum).

Open access

Debalina Saha, S. Christopher Marble, Brian J. Pearson, Héctor E. Pérez, Gregory E. MacDonald and Dennis C. Odero

Mulch is often applied in landscape planting beds for weed control, but little research has focused specifically on mulch and preemergence (PRE) herbicide combinations. The objectives of this research were to determine the efficacy of herbicide + mulch combinations and which factors significantly affected weed control, including herbicide formulation and posttreatment irrigation volumes. Additional objectives were to determine efficacy derived from mulch or herbicides used alone under herbicide + mulch combinations and to identify differences in the additive (herbicide + mulch combinations) or singular (herbicide or mulch) effects compared with the use of herbicides or mulch only. Large crabgrass (Digitaria sanguinalis), garden spurge (Euphorbia hirta), and eclipta (Eclipta prostrata) were used as bioassay species for prodiamine, dimethenamid-P + pendimethalin, and indaziflam efficacy, respectively. The experiment consisted of a factorial treatment arrangement of two herbicide formulations (granular or spray applied), three mulch types [hardwood chips (HWs), pine bark (PB), and pine straw (PS)], two mulch depths (1 and 2 inches), and three levels of one-time, posttreatment irrigation volumes (0.5, 1, and 2 inches). Three sets of controls were used: the first set included three mulch types applied at two depths receiving only 0.5-inch irrigation volume, the second set included only two herbicide formulations and three one-time irrigation volumes, whereas the last set received no treatment (no herbicide or mulch) and only 0.5-inch irrigation volume. High levels of large crabgrass and garden spurge control (88% to 100%) were observed with all herbicide + mulch combinations evaluated at mulch depths of 1 inch or greater. When comparing mulch types, the best eclipta control was achieved with hardwood at 2 inches depth. The spray formulation of indaziflam outperformed the granular formulation in most cases when used alone or in combination with mulch. Overall, the results showed that spray formulations of prodiamine and dimethenamid-P + pendimethalin were more effective than granular formulations when applied alone, whereas indaziflam was more effective as a spray formulation when used both alone and in combination with mulch. Increasing irrigation volume was not a significant factor for any of the herbicide + mulch combinations when evaluating overall weed control.

Open access

Debalina Saha, S. Christopher Marble, Brian Pearson, Héctor Pérez, Gregory MacDonald and D. Calvin Odero

The objective of this research was to determine how mulch type affects adsorption and efficacy of commonly used preemergence herbicides in nurseries and landscapes. Nursery containers were filled with standard potting media and mulched with either pine bark (PB) mini-nuggets (mixed Pinus sp.), pine straw (PS; mixed Pinus sp.), or shredded eucalyptus hardwood (HW; Eucalyptus sp.) at a 2-inch depth. Herbicides including dimethenamid-P + pendimethalin (applied as a tank mix), prodiamine, and indaziflam were applied to mulched containers, watered in, and the mulch was subsequently removed 3 days later. Seeds of garden spurge (Euphorbia hirta), large crabgrass (Digitaria sanguinalis), and eclipta (Eclipta prostrata) were then seeded and used as bioassay species for dimethenamid-P + pendimethalin, prodiamine, and indaziflam, respectively. Chemical assays were also performed using a separate set of pots mulched with PB at 2 inches and treated with the same herbicides. Results from the bioassay experiment showed PS was the only mulch type that did not significantly decrease efficacy of any applied herbicide. Chemical assays showed only 34% of the applied dimethenamid-P reached the soil surface as evidenced by chemical assay, but more dimethenamid-P moved through PB than did pendimethalin (12%) or prodiamine (17%), which adsorbed more strongly. Overall results suggest preemergence herbicides will be strongly adsorbed to organic mulch. However, as mulch is typically more effective on weeds that germinate below the mulch layer, this does not automatically result in reduced efficacy from herbicide + mulch combinations, and the addition of a preemergence herbicide may be effective in reducing weed germination within or on top of the mulch layer.