CropCare Mulch Lifter Feature

Plastic Mulch Retrieval Equipment Evaluation

NC State in cooperation with Waste Reduction Partners is conducting research on plastic mulch retrieval equipment.  The project is evaluating plastic mulch retrieval equipment from various manufacturers to development recommendations for use and plastic recycling.

CropCare Mulch Lifter

CropCare PR 2500 Plastic Mulch Lifter-Wrapper. Photo Credit: PBZ LLC, a Paul B. Zimmerman, Inc. company.

Project Goals

  1. To determine if plastic mulch retrieval costs can be reduced with well designed equipment.
  2. To reduce the amount of plant material left on the film after crop termination to allow for reprocessing of the plastic materials.
  3. To reduce the volume of plastic mulch bundles/rolls to lower transportation costs.

Retrieval Equipment Tested

Preliminary Testing Observations & Recommendations

  • The crop must be mowed before the mulch is retrieved.  A properly adjusted flail mower with a rear adjustable height roller worked best.
  • The mulch retriever must have features that allow for debris to fall off the mulch either by: 1) providing vertical space between the plow(s) and the winding device; 2) a PTO driven blower to push debris off the mulch; 3) an agitation device to knock debris off the mulch.
  • Detailed instructions for setup, adjustment, and operation.
  • Mulch retrieval is more successful in dry conditions, because mud slows collection process and adds weight to plastic bundles.
  • Drip tape must be collected separately for recycling.
  • 1 mil or thicker mulch is recommended to help prevent tearing with retrieval equipment.

When making a decision about purchasing new farm equipment, such as a plastic mulch retriever, it’s important that you evaluate the cost effectiveness for your respective operation.  For plastic mulch retrieval equipment, make sure a recycling facility is within close proximity to your farm.  Transportation logistics should also be considered.  For more information on this project and for collaborator contact information please visit NC State’s IPM Webpages.

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