Research shows that growing vegetables on plastic mulch with drip irrigation offers many benefits including increased soil temperature, cleaner products, reduced water problems and maximized fertilizer use.
Using onions, a Crittenden County commercial vegetable producer and a University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension associate demonstrated this growing technique to other area producers.
The project, funded through a Kentucky Horticulture Council Grant from the Agricultural Development Board, was on display during the recent Vegetable Field Day.
"This project helps producers who have never grown on plastic before to learn about and start growing on plastic," said Vaden Fenton, UK Extension associate. "They get a feel for growing on plastic, and the community members can see and maybe become interested in growing on plastic themselves."
In addition to the project, Fenton and the producer are comparing and contrasting growing conditions, vegetable quality and yield from two different plastics: White over black and solely black. The comparison will go through harvest.
"At the end of the harvest, we will have a feel for which particular plastic probably produced the best," Fenton said.
While the onion project was highlighted, UK Entomologist Ric Bessin, Plant Pathologist Kenny Seebold and Vegetable Crops Specialist Tim Coolong talked to the farmers about insect and disease control. Participants brought in damaged crops for the specialists to diagnose.
"They loved it, especially the information on diseases," said Corey Payne, Crittenden County agriculture and natural resources Extension agent. "The specialists were able to diagnose some problems onsite and took those that couldn't be quickly diagnosed back to UK's diagnostic lab."