Tarps are essential, multifunctional tools for farmers. Be it protecting harvest from moisture damage or for transportation – tarps help farmers in various situations. New-age farmers have devised another innovative way to use tarps in their organic vegetable farms. They use tarps to –
- Create stale seedbeds for the following crops
- Kill weeds after harvest
- Kill cover crops
- Control soil moisture levels to enhance field access during spring
Collectively, these processes are called “tarping.” It involves the use of opaque vinyl tarps that are applied to the soil surfaces between crops. Since tarps are durable and reusable (for several years), they’re adapted to serve different purposes during different planting times over the season. However, their crucial function is “tarping” or weed management in farms.
How Tarps Helps Farmers Get Rid of Weeds from their Crops
Weeds are very annoying problems for farmers. But, every productive harvest comes with weed-related woes. Thankfully, scientists have devised a process called “tarping,” which can be employed with reusable tarps. This low-cost technique is gaining popularity amongst small farm owners who want to control their weeds efficiently yet cost-effectively.
Here’s how tarping works –
- Prepare a flat and smooth garden bed (preferably after a rainy day)
- Water the garden bed and make sure it’s quite moist.
- Get an opaque tarp (preferably darker colors like black or blue for better heat conduction).
- Secure this tarp tightly over the soil that’s intended for spring planting. Use weights (e.g., sandbags, bricks, etc.) to ensure the opaque tarp is secured tightly around the edges.
- Distribute sandbags, bricks, and other weights every couple of feet around the tarp’s perimeter to ensure no light enters.
- The ground is ready for “tarping.” The store of weed seeds in the soil (the seed banks) will germinate fatally in this dark, vacuum-like environment.
- Leave the tarp for 7 to 12 days. The weed seeds hiding beneath the soil will be killed. The process will create a “stale seedbed.”
Now, you can use the stale seedbed to sow your actual crops and seeds. Sow them directly into the stale seedbed. The weed seeds that were present in the soil in the past will all be dead due to tarping. Farmers will no longer have to worry about weed infestation in their new batch of crops.
Why Tarping is the Best form of Weed Management
Tarping involves very little effort. Two or three people can set up the tarp over the planting soil very easily. After that, all they have to do is wait. There’s also minimal soil disturbance. The weed plants get killed, but the soil quality doesn’t suffer. The same can’t be said about weed removal strategies that involve pesticides. Heavy-duty tarps made of vinyl are also reusable.
After they’re used for tarping, farmers can use them for protecting, gathering, lifting, and covering things on the farm. The next harvest season, they can use the same tarps again. Meanwhile, the soil quality keeps improving. Farmers don’t have to worry about weed infestations or rising costs. They simply need to own some high-quality tarps and use them strategically.