While plastic mulches are effective in managing weeds, the environmental problems associated with their use are becoming increasingly clear. One of the popular available options to growers, polyethylene mulch, is cheaply available but quickly degrades into the soil and water courses.
Ben Coode Adams is one of five growers in this field lab. He wants to find alternatives to the black plastic film that his farm currently uses to suppress weeds under their blackcurrant bushes.
Watch the film
Find out what brought Ben to investigate plastic alternatives on his farm and why farmer-led research is the best way to do this.
Ben is in a group of small, medium and large-scale growers that have come together to find practical ways of reducing plastic use on their farms. The trial is comparing a range of commercially available non-degradable and biodegradable solutions, to evaluate their impact on weeds, yields, costs and other parameters. These include starch-based film mulches, woodchip, compost, cardboard, hay and grass clippings.
These trials build on Center for Agroecology Water and Resilience's OrganicPlus trials, and are complimented by a life-cycle analysis of the materials by CAWR partners, to understand the wider impact on sustainability.
This group is supported by AHDB funding through its partnership with the programme.
Get involved in your own farmer-led research
To keep informed of how this field lab and others are progressing sign up and become a member of the Innovative Farmers network. Got your own idea for a field lab? Then contact the team to find out how to get involved.