What does biodegradable mulch cost?

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The purchase price of biodegradable plastic mulch varies, generally based on its size (roll width and length) and thickness. Thickness of mulch products can range from 0.5 to 1 mil, with thinner products generally degrading faster than thicker products. The cost of biodegradable plastic mulch products ranges between 3% and 60% higher than traditional plastic mulch, depending on the product thickness and size (click here for more information). Both clear and white-on-black biodegradable mulch is more expensive than black biodegradable mulch. Prices of cellulose-based (paper) mulch also varies based on thickness and creping, but is priced similarly to biodegradable plastic mulch.

Although the purchase price is higher for biodegradable mulch, there can be labor and equipment use savings associated with using a biodegradable product since it is tilled into the soil instead of removed from the field at the end of the season. Our USDA SCRI research and extension project is currently conducting farm budget studies and life-cycle assessments of biodegradable mulches to better understand these costs and potential savings.