Plastic mulching

The plants are planted without their supporting stakes. A film of plastic (high in UV inhibitors) about 1 m in width is unrolled using a trailed implement that buries 200 mm on each side to a depth of 150 mm. Holes are then cut in the plastic to allow the vines to poke through. Canes or stakes are then planted next to the plants.

Advantages & disadvantages to using plastic mulch

Advantages Disadvantages
  • The young plants do not suffer from drought, even in dry summers
  • There is no weed competition
  • No under-row weed control is required
  • Soil structure under row is maintained
  • Soil temperature is increased, increasing microbial activity
  • The young plants grow much faster, and can gain one year
  • Initial expense of plastic and hire of machine
  • Increased frost risk, as plants grow earlier & faster
  • Weeds develop at the base of the plant that are difficult to control
  • Plastic harbours slugs, mice and snakes
  • Any perforations in the plastic cause weed problems
  • Possibility of foliage scorch in very hot summers
  • Available tractor space is reduced
  • Increased erosion risks
  • Eventual removal of plastic is arduous and disposal difficult
  • Promotes superficial rooting