Skip to main content
×
Home
    • Aa
    • Aa

Barriers and bridges to the adoption of biodegradable plastic mulches for US specialty crop production

  • Jessica R. Goldberger (a1), Robert Emmet Jones (a2), Carol A. Miles (a3), Russell W. Wallace (a4) and Debra A. Inglis (a5)...
Abstract
Abstract

Commercial farmers have been using polyethylene plastic mulch since the 1950s. Despite the affordability and effectiveness of polyethylene mulch, the disposal process is financially and environmentally costly. Biodegradable plastic mulches, an ecologically sustainable alternative to polyethylene mulch films, were introduced in the 1980s. Biodegradable plastic mulches can be tilled into the soil or composted at the end of the season, reducing the labor and environmental costs associated with plastic removal and disposal. However, research results are mixed as to the effectiveness, degradability and ease-of-use of biodegradable plastic mulches. In 2008–2012, researchers, funded by a USDA Specialty Crop Research Initiative grant, conducted surveys and focus groups in three different agricultural regions of the USA to better understand the barriers and bridges to the adoption of biodegradable plastic mulches for specialty crop production systems. Data on the experiences and views of specialty crop growers, agricultural extension agents, agricultural input suppliers, mulch manufacturers and other stakeholders showed that the major adoption barriers were insufficient knowledge, high cost and unpredictable breakdown. The major bridges to adoption were reduced waste, environmental benefits and interest in further learning. These findings are discussed with reference to the classic innovation diffusion model, specifically work on the innovation–decision process and the attributes of innovations. The study results can be used to guide the activities of those involved in the design, development and promotion of biodegradable plastic mulches for US specialty crop production systems.

Copyright
Corresponding author
* Corresponding author: jgoldberger@wsu.edu
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

1 S. Kasirajan and M. Ngouajio 2012. Polyethylene and biodegradable mulches for agricultural applications: A review. Agronomy for Sustainable Development 32:501529.

7 M.W. Schonbeck and G.K. Evanylo 1998. Effects of mulches on soil properties and tomato production. I. Soil temperature, soil moisture and marketable yield. Journal of Sustainable Agriculture 13(1):5581.

10 R.L. Shogren 2000. Biodegradable mulches from renewable resources. Journal of Sustainable Agriculture 16(4):3347.

16 D. Briassoulis and C. Dejean 2010. Critical review of norms and standards for biodegradable agricultural plastics. Part I. Biodegradation in soil. Journal of Polymers and the Environment 18(3):384400.

21 D. Waterer 2010. Evaluation of biodegradable mulches for production of warm season vegetable crops. Canadian Journal of Plant Science 90:737743.

23 J.K. Olsen and R.K. Gounder 2001. Alternatives to polyethylene mulch film—a field assessment of transported materials in capsicum (Capsicum annuum L.). Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture 41(1):93103.

25 M.W. Schonbeck 1998. Weed suppression and labor costs associated with organic, plastic, and paper mulches in small-scale vegetable production. Journal of Sustainable Agriculture 13(2):1333.

34 F.C. Fliegel and J.E. Kivlin 1966. Attributes of innovations as factors in diffusion. American Journal of Sociology 72(3):235248.

36 K.S. Kremer , M. Carolan , S. Gasteyer , S.N. Tirmizi , P.F. Korsching , G. Peter , and P. Tong 2001. Evolution of an agricultural innovation: The N-Trak soil nitrogen test—adopt and discontinue, or reject? Technology in Society 23(1):93108.

38 M. Carolan 2006. Do you see what I see? Examining the epistemic barriers to sustainable agriculture. Rural Sociology 71(2):232260.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems
  • ISSN: 1742-1705
  • EISSN: 1742-1713
  • URL: /core/journals/renewable-agriculture-and-food-systems
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Keywords:

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 10
Total number of PDF views: 47 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 377 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 26th September 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.