Geotextiles: Biodegradable Plastic Mulch

Why waste time pulling plastic mulch at the end of the growing year? Experiment with this newly developed biodegradable mulch to save time and energy.

The inspirational drive behind the development of biodegradable mulch was to produce a plastic material that is made predominantly from starch and is 100% biodegradable so farmers do not have to spend so much time removing the plastic at the end of the season.


In many studies, biodegradable mulch has similar properties to black mulch.


Biodegradable mulch can be laid similar to black plastic mulches however it should not be pulled taught. Farmers have found that the mulch has a shrink-wrap effect when exposed to the sun. Thus, if the plastic is laid loosely it will tighten to the bed after sun exposure. Store the mulch in cool and dry temperatures as warm, moist conditions will cause the mulch to degrade.


Here are some of the advantages you can expect:

  • Earlier and higher yields even though there will be variations from year to year.
  • Weed control.
  • Soil temperature increases.
  • Evaporation of soil moisture is reduced.
  • Nutrient leaching is reduced during excessive rainy periods.
  • No Clean-up! Because the mulch is biodegradable, there is no clean-up required.


Here are some disadvantages to consider:

  • Increased cost: biodegradable mulch is more expensive than regular plastic mulches, however some farms feel the upfront costs even out by the end of the season since so much time and money is saved because of no clean-up.
  • Predicting breakdown is a challenge when using biodegradable mulch. Some farmers feel the mulch is very flimsy and can not be left on the soil for very long. Areas exposed to sunlight or with higher organic matter broke down much faster. Ideal conditions for crops are also ideal conditions for microbial activity in the soil, which is what actually breaks down the product. Because of the breakdown factor, this mulch may be better suited for a home garden than a larger-scale farming operation. If the mulch does not break down with the cooler temperatures in the fall, it will fully degrade in the spring.
  • Not Certified Organic. This technology is not yet certified organic by the USDA so organic farmers are not permitted to use it on their certified farms.

Where to Buy

There are many types of biodegradable mulches out there. A plastic mulch and a paper variety are both biodegradable. Neither are certified organic. Find some at Territorial Seed Company or Johnny’s Selected Seeds.


CCF staff
‘Why not try BioTelo Biodegradable Plastic Mulch?’

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