Production of Vegetables, Strawberries, and Cut Flowers Using Plasticulture

Publication Number: NRAES-133
Cost: $24.00
Length: 156 pages
Published: 2004
ISBN: 0-935817-87-5
Features: 100+ photos and illustrations, 24 informative tables, Equipment supplier lists

Covers plastic mulch, drip irrigation, fertigation, season extension, windbreaks, crop establishment, weed management, soil sanitation, and managing used plastics. Strawberry and cut flower production systems are described in depth. For new/experienced growers, educators, serious gardeners.

Note: A brief "new book announcement" is also available; scroll down after the news release on this page.

New Plasticulture Book Can Help Growers Extend Production, Maximize Yields

For Immediate Release
January 2005

To be competitive in today's marketplace, growers must continually strive for maximum yields and extended production cycles. Plasticulture -- a crop-growing system that uses products made from plastic polymers, such as mulch, high tunnels, and drip irrigation systems -- can help growers achieve significant benefits, including earlier production, higher yields per acre, cleaner and higher-quality crops, and more efficient use of resources.

Production of Vegetables, Strawberries, and Cut Flowers Using Plasticulture (156 pages; December 2004) covers everything a grower needs to know to get started in plasticulture or better manage an existing operation. This book is sure to become a valuable reference for new and experienced growers, serious gardeners, and educators.

The book includes 12 chapters that provide in-depth coverage of different components of the plasticulture growing system. Readers will learn how to use colored, reflective, and wavelength-selective mulches to tweak production; how to best establish a crop in a plasticulture system; how drip irrigation and fertigation can be used to maximize efficiency; how to manage pests and weeds between and under strips of plastic mulch; how to integrate windbreaks to prevent lost income; and how to extend the growing season with row covers, high tunnels, and other technology. Two chapters provide in-depth coverage of strawberry and cut-flower production. The final chapter offers guidance on dealing with the biggest challenge to plasticulture growers -- what to do with the used plastic.

Over 85 photos, 24 tables, and 18 illustrations supplement the text. The book also features an appendix of material and equipment suppliers, a glossary, and a table of useful conversion factors.

Production of Vegetables, Strawberries, and Cut Flowers Using Plasticulture was edited by William J. Lamont, Jr., of The Pennsylvania State University. The book was written by Lamont; John W. Bartok, Jr., University of Connecticut; Robert D. Berghage, The Pennsylvania State University; A. Richard Bonanno, University of Massachusetts Extension; Joseph A. Fiola, Maryland Cooperative Extension; Stephen A. Garrison, Rutgers Agricultural Research and Extension Center; James W. Garthe, The Pennsylvania State University; George J. Hochmuth, University of Florida; Laurie Hodges, University of Nebraska-Lincoln; Steve Olson, University of Florida; Michael D. Orzolek, The Pennsylvania State University; James W. Paterson, Rutgers University; David S. Ross, University of Maryland; Bob Rouse, University of Maryland; James Sellmer, The Pennsylvania State University; and Otho S. Wells, University of New Hampshire. The book was published by NRAES, the Natural Resource, Agriculture, and Engineering Service.


# # #

New Book Announcement

New Plasticulture Book Can Help Growers Extend Production, Maximize Yields

For Immediate Release
January 2005

Plasticulture -- a crop-growing system that uses plastic components, such as mulch, high tunnels, and drip irrigation systems -- can help growers achieve earlier production, higher yields per acre, cleaner and higher-quality crops, and more efficient use of resources. The book, Production of Vegetables, Strawberries, and Cut Flowers Using Plasticulture, covers all aspects of the growing system, including plastic mulch, drip irrigation, fertigation, season extension, windbreaks, crop establishment, weed management, soil sanitation, and managing used plastics. Production systems for strawberries and cut flowers are described in depth. Over 85 photos and 18 figures supplement the text. The book is intended for new and experienced growers, serious gardeners, and educators.

Note: See also the more descriptive news release above.

Acknowledgments

About the Authors

Chapter 1: Plasticulture -- An Overview

Plastic Mulches
Drip Irrigation
Fertigation
Soil Sanitation
Windbreaks
Stand-Establishment Technology
Season-Extension Technology
Pest Management
Cropping Strategies: Double- or Triple-Cropping
Marketing
Disposal of Used Plastics
Summary

Chapter 2: Plastic Mulches

Materials
Black Mulches
Clear Mulches
White and Other Reflective Mulches
Wavelength-Selective Mulches
Response of Specific Crops to Mulch Color
Photodegradable Mulch
Other Material Considerations
Application and Installation Techniques
Bedding and Pressing the Soil
Laying the Mulch and Drip Tube and Fumigating (If Required)
Sidebar: Disposal

Chapter 3: Drip Irrigation and Water Management

Plant-Soil-Water Relationships
Plant Water Use
Plant-Available Soil Moisture
Water Distribution under Drip
Water and Nutrient Management
Tools to Monitor Soil Moisture
System Planning Considerations
Water Source and Quality
Planning and Information Collection
Layout Out the System
System Components and Applications
Mainline Pipe
Submain or Header Pipe
Lateral Connectors
Drip or Lateral Lines
Pump Capacity
Filtration
Pressure Gauges
Pressure Regulators
Valves
Controllers
Backflow Prevention Devices
Chemical Injection Equipment
System Installation, Operation, and Maintenance
Installation
Operation
Maintenance
Summary

Chapter 4: Fertigation

System Design Considerations
Fertilizer Injectors
Backflow Prevention
Filtration
Emitters
Uniformity
Sidebar: The Effective Wetted Root Zone
Preplant Fertilizer
Liming
Starter Fertilizer
Phosphorus and Micronutrients
Fertilizer Injection
Rates
Sources
Application Frequencies and Methods
Nutrient Injection Scheduling
Crop Growth Curve
Accounting for Preplant Nitrogen and Potassium
Florida Schedules: An Example
Example Calculations
Sidebar: Calculating Fertilizer for Drip Irrigation under Mulch
Water Management in Relation to Fertilizer Injection
Summary

Chapter 5: Season-Extension Technology -- Row Covers and High Tunnels

Row Covers
Hoop-Supported Covers (Low Tunnels)
Floating Row Covers
Row Cover Crops
High Tunnels
High Tunnel Systems
High Tunnel Management
Benefits of Tunnels
Heating and Ventilation Alternatives
Heating Systems
Cooling Systems
Mobile Greenhouses
Summary

Chapter 6: Windbreaks

The Problem
Abrasion Injury
Wind-Whipping
Lodging
Plant Damage and Disease Potential
Wind Stress
Increased Transpiration and Evaporation
Microclimate Alteration
Lost Income
The Solution: Windbreaks
General Design Criteria for Successful Windbreaks
Annual Windbreaks
Perennial or Permanent Windbreaks
Fencing and Other Web-Type Windbreaks
Other Methods for Reducing Wind-Related Problems
Organic or Natural Mulches
Irrigation
Strip Tilling
Summary

Chapter 7: Crop Establishment Options, Machinery, and Spacings for Plasticulture

Plant Establishment
Transplanting
Crops
Container Cell Size
Transplant Age
Starter Solution
Mechanization
Direct-Seeding
Crops
Plant Population
Double-Cropping
Mechanization
Most Common Mistakes Made during Plant Establishment in Plasticulture

Chapter 8: Weed Management in Plasticulture

Weed Management under Plastic Mulch
Weed Management between Plastic Mulch Strips
Stale-Bed Applications
Special Precautions
Delayed Stale-Bed Technique
Residual Applications
Postemergence Applications
Cultivation
Cover Crops
Weed Management under Row Covers
Summary

Chapter 9: Soil Sanitation -- Managing Soilborne Pests

Nonchemical Methods
Biological Control
Crop Rotation
Fallowing
Flooding
Plant Resistance
Soil Amendments
Soil Solarization
Other Cultural Practices
Chemical Control
Nonfumigants
Fumigants
Sidebar: Safety Precautions When Using Fumigants

Chapter 10: Production of Strawberries Using Plasticulture

The Basics of the System
Climate Considerations
Preplant Preparation
Soil Considerations
Management of Soil Pests
Nutrition
Tissue Testing
Sidebar: Proper Sampling -- The Key to Success in Monitoring Nutrients
Bed Preparation
Plastic Mulch
Drip Irrigation
Overhead Irrigation
Planting Considerations
Plant Types
Sidebar: Making Plugs from Tips
Planting Dates
Cultivars
Plant Spacing
Planting Procedure
Maintenance and Post-Planting Procedures
Maintenance between Rows
Row Covers
Straw Mulch
Frost Protection
Irrigation
Row Covers
Pest Control
Sidebar: Deer
Harvest Considerations
Renovation and Vegetable Double-Cropping
Renovation Techniques for Second-Year Production
Techniques for Vegetable Double-Cropping
Economics
Future Prospects
Development of a Local Tip Nursery Industry to Support Plasticulture
Breeding Specifically for Plasticulture
Additional Research and Extension
Summary

Chapter 11: Specialty Cut Flower Plasticulture

Plasticulture Production Considerations
Site Selection
Bed Preparation
Irrigation Systems
Planting
Wind Protection and Support
High Tunnels, Cold Frames, and Greenhouses
Pest Control
Harvest and Postharvest Handling
Plastic Removal and Disposal
Cultivars and Test Results
Marketing
Wholesale
Florists
Pick-Your-Own, Roadside Stands, and Farm Markets
Subscription Sales
Cooperatives

Chapter 12: Managing Used Agricultural Plastics

The Material Called Plastic
A Glimpse at Solid Waste Management
Concerns
What Are the Options?
Reduce the Use of Plastics
Reuse the Product Elsewhere
Recycle
Sidebar: Steps to Prepare Greenhouse Film for Recycling
Combustion
Landfilling
Sidebar: On-Farm Burning of Plastics
Future Prospects
New Korean High-Temperature Combustion Technology

Appendix A: Plasticulture Equipment and Material Sources

Glossary

Useful Conversions

References

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