2005 Student Research Conference:
18th Annual Student Research Conference

Science

Yield in Commercial Tomato Plots Mulched with Painted Polyetheylene or Straw Mulch
Andrew K. Harken
Dr. Charlie Apter, Faculty Mentor

Farmers seeking to boost yield have begun utilizing plastic mulching in various colors. This research evaluated a more sustainable, straw-based colored mulching system in tomatoes by comparing it to traditional polyethylene mulching methods. Past research gives us reason to hypothesize that red mulch will increase yields. Seven rows of twenty-one tomato plants were planted in a Latin square design. Each row had three plastic mulch plots, three straw mulch plots, and one control plot; in each case, treatment was randomly assigned. Both plastic and straw mulches were painted red, white, or black. The red colored polyethylene mulch exhibited the greatest yield. Our hypothesis that a sustainable straw-based mulching system would result in yields equal to those of a traditional polyethylene mulching method was not supported by our data, but our data did confirm results of previous research in which red colored mulch boosted tomato yield by as much as 20%.

Keywords: Tomato, plastic mulch, greatest yield, straw mulch, polyethylene mulch, sustainable, colored mulch, red mulch

Topic(s):Agricultural Science

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 42-1
Location: VH 1432
Time: 2:15

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