2022 HLA Fall Seminar – Dr. Sam E. Wortman – HLA Happenings

2022 HLA Fall Seminar – Dr. Sam E. Wortman

Dr. Sam E. Wortman, Associate Professor Department of Agronomy & Horticulture, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Thursday November 17th, at 3:30pm

“Developing a biobased fabric mulch system for high-density specialty crops” 

Abstract: Mulch films and fabrics are critically important weed management tools in organic specialty crop production but are not practical for use in high-density crops like carrot, leafy greens, and matted-row strawberry. Instead, hand weeding is common in these crops, but the cost and scarcity of labor limits the sustainability of organic production. Our recent research efforts have been focused on leveraging the unique characteristics of biobased fabrics to develop a production system where compost is spread on top of the mulch membrane and vegetable seeds or strawberry runners root directly through it. The goal of this research is to use biobased fabrics to eliminate hand weeding and increase the climate resilience of specialty crops by reducing evaporative soil water loss and moderating extreme root zone temperatures. Results from greenhouse and field trials from the past four years will be shared, including lessons learned about the effects of biofabric composition on weed suppression, soil moisture and temperature, nitrogen availability, microbial dynamics, and crop establishment and yield. 

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