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  • Author or Editor: Karen L. DeLong x
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Polyethylene (PE) mulch provides significant benefits to fruit and vegetable producers because it has the potential to improve crop quality and increase yield. However, the use of PE mulch generates plastic pollution, posing challenges to the sustainability of fruit and vegetable production. Plastic biodegradable mulches (BDMs) are a sustainable alternative to PE mulch because they are designed to decompose into water, carbon dioxide, and microbial biomass. We surveyed Tennessee fruit and vegetable growers to assess their use of PE mulch, BDM, or both; the differences in the characteristics of BDM users and nonusers; and their interest in using BDM. Our results indicate a large percentage of fruit and vegetable growers have used PE mulch compared with BDM. In general, BDM users tend to have more acres in fruit and vegetable production, have used dumping and burying as PE mulch disposal methods, and have spent more hours removing and disposing of PE mulch. Results indicate that even at prices higher than the current average market price for BDM, there is a percentage of Tennessee fruit and vegetable growers interested in using BDM.

Open Access