Darrin Dodds, Extension research professor, cotton agronomics, Mississippi State University, dedicated a research plot this spring to discover if cotton planted under a biodegradable film would increase early-season plant growth. The theory behind the project was based on the film’s ability to trap additional heat over cotton planted in traditional rows without the film.
Cotton planted on April 13 was planted under film and as well as a set of rows not under film. Cotton planted on May 10 was only planted without film. “The cotton planted on May 10, not under film out-yielded everything else,” says Dodds. “The second and third weeks of April were wet and pretty cold. Even cotton not planted under film struggled to get a stand.”
Dodds believes if he had planted when it was a little warmer, the additional heat units that could have been captured by the film might have made a noticeable difference. The biggest difference seemed to be timing. “I don’t see many farmers who are willing to get in their fields to plant 10 to 14 days early under film when the weather is not favourable without positive data that shows two things: (1) achieving an adequate stand and, (2) a significant yield increase to cover the cost of the film,” says Dodds.
The planting system is manufactured by Norseman, a family-owned and family-operated company in Australia. A Norseman representative traveled across the United States showcasing the planter and concept to various farming operations earlier this year.
“I wanted to test it on some of my ground,” says Dodds. “Costs for the equipment and film range from $80 to $100 an acre, which is a big pill to swallow for many growers.”