Nothing is Black and White or Good and Bad – Darn It – plastics in organic farming #environment #organic #plastics

What could be better than organic farming? Improving the soil our food depends on while reducing chemicals that add cost and damage the environment.

fierce unicorn in ancient IranNothing is all sunshine and unicorns.

Organic operations like farms in Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Florida, spread plastic mulch over thousands of acres. And when the season is over, it ends up in landfills.

Mulch is vital to organic farming. It suppresses weeds (replacing herbicides), reduces water usage (water is increasingly in short supply), and warms the soil to produce crops faster (which increases profits and keeps farms in business).

But, but, but… you’ve heard about biodegradable mulches.

Ah, biodegradable mulches are neither rainbows nor unicorns. Not according to the rules.

Natural mulches like straw and paper that break down in the soil do exist, they are too costly and labor-intensive for many farmers. But if a plastic mulch could slowly degrade over the course of the season, disappearing into the field and eliminating waste, it would amount to a dream solution…

One conceivable solution, biodegradable plastic, isn’t allowed under organic rules… biodegradable mulches on the market all contain petroleum-based materials.

Well, drat. Perfect often chases away good.

Of course, research for a perfect solution continues. Until ideas become solutions in the fields, should we change the rules? Pay higher prices for food? Get better today and look for even-better ideas for tomorrow? All of these? As you stand in your grocery store contemplating a tomato, what’s important to you?


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