Geotextiles: Silver Plastic
Aluminum reflective mulch has similar uses to black plastic mulch, however it posses some unique properties. It is used where soil cooling is desired, such as establishing fall crops during the heat of summer. Aluminum colored mulch reflects the sun’s heat and helps cool the soil. In addition, research has shown that aluminum reflective mulch also repels insects and the diseases they spread.
Follow these basic guidelines for installation:
- Prepare soil well. It should be smooth and friable.
- If using drip tape, be sure it is laid well and it must go underneath the plastic.
- Do not lay plastic on dry soil.
- Carefully adjust plastic laying machine so the plastic is laid evenly on the bed having equal amounts on each side.
- Plastic should be in close contact with the soil.
- Be sure the edges of the plastic are well secured with soil.
- Be careful not to puncture the plastic, as any holes allow sunlight to permeate and encourage weed growth.
Silver mulch combines its unique reflective properties with standard black plastic mulch’s strengths.
- Earlier and higher yields. Silver mulch reflects sunlight back into the plant canopy, providing sunlight for the shady underside of leaves. The additional light helps some varieties of vegetable plants grow bigger and more quickly than they would with light absorbing black plastic mulch. Up to 20% higher yields in crops like peppers have been found.
- Weed control.
- Evaporation of soil moisture is reduced. Plastic mulch is impervious to water. It is particularly effective when used in combination with drip tape. Any evaporation of soil moisture occurs only through the planting holes.
- Nutrient leaching is reduced during excessive rainy periods.
- Easy to install and durable. Plastic mulch is flexible and stretchable. It will conform to both flat and raised beds. Strong enough for double cropping in the same season or possibly for use over two seasons. Easy field removal.
- Repels certain insects. This mulch scatters light in a way that has been proven to reduce the ability of certain insect pests, including aphids, flea beetles, and squash bugs, to infest a crop. Since the material repels some insects, it also repels the diseases these bugs carry and spread. Experiments have shown that Silver Mulch is as effective as regular pesticide applications for protecting tomatoes from spotted wilt virus.
Here are some disadvantages to consider:
- Increased cost. Silver plastic is more expensive than black plastic mulch. All plastic mulches are expensive to buy, install and clean-up.
- Removal and disposal. This plastic must be removed and disposed of at the end of the season. This requires significant time.
- Cooling effect is noted with silver plastic mulches. Therefore, it can only be used on certain crops.
- Not all insects are repelled by silver mulch.
Where To Buy
Find silver mulch at Territorial Seeds.
Oklahoma Cooperative Extension
Territorial Seed Company