Today, the use of disposable plastic mulch and a plastic mulch layer is the dominant way that vegetables are farmed in the United States. Every year millions of acres are farmed in this way. The use of this system is very efficient and saves the labor of weeding as well as keeping moisture in the soil. Even with the benefits, many farmers are unhappy with this unit because of the mountains of trash the unit generates. The thin plastic is hard to remove from the soil and is destroyed in the process, leaving mounds of dirt covered trash that is difficult to recycle. In essence the plastic mulch can only be used once and is difficult to dispose. The Mulch layer Re-roller system, was invented to address some of the downfalls of the Plastic Mulch Layer Unit. The new System uses woven landscape fabric, instead of plastic, with a mulch layer and re-roller. Using the Mulch Layer/Re-roller System, landscape fabric can be laid, used for a crop, then re-rolled and re-used for 10 or more years. Landscape fabric is warranted to last 10 years in direct sunlight. At House in The Woods Farm we have been using landscape fabric for 7 years, hand laid at first and finally machine laid. Check out our video above:
The Nuts and Bolts of the System
The mulch used in this system is woven landscape fabric, available from Rain-Flo and Nolt’s. A 300 foot roll is $54-$59 This is 7 times more than rolls of standard black plastic. The fabric is UV-protected and can last 10 years or more in direct sunlight. In our system, the woven fabric is rolled up and stored for the winter which should prolong the fabric’s life. The landscape fabric can also be used multiple times in a single season. Overall, the fabric should create a cost savings and allow a farmer to buy mulch for the next 10 years of use.
The Mulch Layer Re-Roller is attachment to a plastic mulch layer. In the video above it is attached a Rain-Flo 2500 raised bed mulch layer. This attachment is a simple machine, but has several features that are essential to the success of re-rolling and re-laying landscape fabric. It is easy to lay landscape fabric in a new roll from the factory, but it is a trick to re-lay a “field” re-rolled piece fabric. This system allows for the imperfections that occur in the field on a farm. In the course of re-rolling landscape fabric, dirt, ice and plant roots are sometimes left on the fabric, and sometimes fabric is rolled unevenly or with small folds. The system design compensates for these imperfections and lays the fabric as if it was a new roll from the factory (see the video above). Please email me at email@example.com with questions.