Biobased Sprayable Mulch Films Suppressed Annual Weeds in Vegetable Crops

Eliott Gloeb, Sibel Irmak, Loren Isom, John L. Lindquist, Sam E. Wortman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Biobased sprayable mulch (BSM) films are a potential alternative to herbicides, polyethylene plastic mulch film, and hand weeding for specialty crops. We developed a series of BSM films using locally available biomaterials [including corn (Zea mays) starch, glycerol, keratin hydrolysate, corn gluten meal, corn zein, eggshells, and isolated soy (Glycine max) protein] and tested their effects on weeds and crop yield during a total of seven greenhouse or field trials between 2017 and 2019 in Nebraska, USA. Application rates of BSM films applied in pots (greenhouse), planting holes in plastic film (field), or bed tops (field) ranged from 0.9 to 18.2 L.m22; they were applied before and after the emergence of weeds. Weed control efficacy was variable, and results of greenhouse pots were rarely replicated under field conditions. Increasing the viscosity of the final suspension tested [BSM7; a mix of corn starch (72.8 g.L21), glycerol (184.7 mL.L21), keratin hydrolysate (733.3 mL.L21), corn zein (19.8 g.L21), and isolated soy protein (19.8 g.L21)] reduced weed biomass by more than 96% in field-grown kale (Brassica oleracea var. sabellica) when applied to bare soil bed tops before or after weed emergence, but kale yield in treated plots was not different from the weedy control. The results demonstrated the potential for postemergence applications of BSM films, which increase application timing flexibility for growers. Further research is needed to explore the effects of BSM films on soil properties and crop physiology and yield.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)27-35
Number of pages9
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Horticulture


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