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First Field Evaluation of a Polylactic Acid-based Weed Barrier with Compost for Carrot Production

Wehrbein, C. D., I. Kadoma, S. E. Wortman . 2024.


Hand weeding is a common but expensive weed management practice in organic carrot (Daucus carota) production. To improve weed suppression and reduce hand weeding in these systems, we developed and tested different biobased polylactic acid (PLA) mulch and compost combinations for carrot production. Carrot was direct-seeded onto PLA mulches and top-dressed with a layer of compost to facilitate carrot germination and rooting through the semipermeable mulch surface. This PLA mulch reduced total weed emergence by 90% relative to bare soil. Yields were not significantly different among mulch types and bare soil controls, partly because weeds were removed weekly after counting. The PLA mulch reduced plant available soil nitrate by 47% relative to bare soil controls. The results suggest that PLA mulch paired with compost is an effective alternative to hand weeding in carrot production. Future research should seek to address the observed nitrogen immobilization.