The recent Plasticulture Field Day in coastal Oxnard, California was a success. This field day brought together agricultural industry leaders, plastic manufacturers, environmentalists, and farmers to explore plasticulture solutions for reducing plastic pollution. Hosted by the California Marine Sanctuary Foundation (CMSF), Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (MBNMS), Good Farms, and other collaborators, this event provided attendees with a firsthand look at end-of-life solutions for agricultural plastics.
Jazmine Mejia-Muñoz, with CMSF/MBNMS, presented soil-biodegradable mulch (BDM)technology as an alternative to polyethylene (PE) mulch. Agricultural mulch is the thin plastic film used to cover row crop beds Fig. 2. Good Farm’s grower Matt Conroy shared his experience with the BDM in strawberry fields and discussed the challenges of the technology. The greatest challenge is that BDMs are most compatible with organic systems, given their limitations with current traditional fumigation methods, however no commercially available BDM meets the National Organic Standards Board’s requirements.
Kyle Monper with Driscoll’s and Therone Smith with Flipping Iron discussed their role with the awarded grant from Sea Grant. Ms. Mejia-Munoz introduced an exciting new research project focused on recycling PE mulch, which hopes to revolutionize the way we approach plasticulture- soil contact films. Event attendees got to witness a live demonstration of the mechanical removal of the PE mulch.
Lindsay Brown, with CMSF/MBNMS, presented on the background of Sea Grant. Ms. Brown noted that NOAA’s Sea Grant was modeled after the Land Grant Act of 1862 which provided grants of land to states so that they could finance the establishment of colleges specializing in agriculture and mechanical arts. Live Spanish and English Interpretation was provided to all audience members by Eren Saenz from Globally You.
With a diverse group of participants, including members from Lideres Campesinas, ag plastic manufacturers, leading berry brands, and resource conservation groups, the Plasticulture Field Day fostered a collaborative environment where valuable insights were shared and discussed. Together, we explored ways to promote sustainable agriculture and protect our marine sanctuaries.
This event not only showcased the latest advancements in reducing plastic pollution but also emphasized the importance of working together to find practical solutions. By embracing soil-biodegradable mulch and supporting innovative research projects, we can make significant strides towards a more sustainable future for agriculture.
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