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silage tarp for occultation

Thu, 29 Aug 2019 20:18:35 GMT

I just took over management of a 3 acre educational farm. It has been rototilled extensively for years, and the weed pressure is intense. I want to experiment with some no till practices. I am trying to clean up some areas that have essentially become weed monoculture. Other than hitting it with the tiller or occultation I cannot think of any way to clean it up thats labor efficient. I want to buy a silage tarp but I am adverse to getting anything that is cheap and won't last long, because I try to avoid creating a bunch of plastic trash when possible. So, my question is, what have others found to be the most cost effective, durable tarp for occultation?

Fri, 30 Aug 2019 04:27:17 GMT

I have purchased and used the 6mm tarps from Home Depot and they worked fairly well. Unfortunately they don't have any UV protection (?) so they break down faster than a tarp with UV protection (like a silage tarp). The farm I manage now has horrendous bindweed and we've had some luck managing it with clear plastic tarps, stuff that was pulled off our greenhouses and hoop houses when we reskinned them in the Spring. I just purchased my first silage tarp from Farmers Friend and will be putting it on a new plot next week. The shipping costs were the same compared to Johnny's but the tarp sold by Farmers Friend is slightly bigger (50x105 vs 50x100).

Fri, 30 Aug 2019 23:13:11 GMT

Useful info about the bindweed. We definitely have some, although I wouldn't;t call it horrendous.... yet. I don't know if its just getting started wreaking havoc or if its just not as vigorous in my cool, coastal climate.

Wed, 04 Sep 2019 14:22:29 GMT

Still looking for recommendations on best bang for your buck silage tarps!

Dawson Mehalko
Sat, 07 Sep 2019 01:11:57 GMT

I love farmers friend for silage tarps.

Sun, 08 Sep 2019 03:32:59 GMT

Farmers Friend has used tarps for sale in need of various repairs. They don't specify what repairs are needed but if you email them they might be able to specify. I know that when I searched around my area (I live in rural Lane County, just outside Eugene Oregon) I couldn't find any used silage tarps nor could I find them online that didn't charge an arm and a leg for shipping. Unfortunately certain market garden businesses have made it more difficult to source locally so you're kinda forced to buy it from Johnnys or Farmers Friend.

Tue, 24 Sep 2019 03:17:23 GMT

I'm curious is folks have seen much rodent damage while using the tarps?

Sat, 28 Sep 2019 13:21:58 GMT

I use tarps, and I have huge amounts of rodent damage, but I’m not sure the two things are related. I also manage an educational farm (Hi teacher farmer! We should chat sometime!). We are part of a nature center, and I’m slowly reclaiming a 7 acre field that has been abandoned for 6 years and is perfect habitat for field mice, rabbits, ground hogs and deer. Mowing this field was discouraged in the past, so my 1/2 acre garden has become a delicious oasis in a sea of saplings and wildflowers. My nature center has also long had a rule about keeping out dogs and cats because of how they can affect natural systems, so I can’t use them for pest control. Hopefully that is changing, but this summer was rough! I find mouse nests under woven landscape fabric, mainly at the ends of production rows when I’ve had that row covered for months (peppers, eggplant, tomatoes). When I use silage tarps, I don’t keep them in place for more than a month, and while I see the occasional mouse trail around the edges when I pull them back, I haven’t seen any nests. I’m guessing it gets too wa rm? I haven’t used tarps over winter in the past, but I’m thinking that would be a cozy environment for rodents, and might result in more rodent pressure.

Mon, 07 Oct 2019 17:56:09 GMT

I have started using sileage tarps more extensively in my market garden this season and have definitely seen a jump in rodent pressure. I have had significant losses to rodent damage in Carrots, beets, watermelon radish, hakurei turnips... Im thinking about how I can encourage more predatory birds, snakes etc in my garden next season but also wondering about mouse traps in the field. Has anyone tried trapping mice in the field and had success with this? Ive tried placing snap traps around under milk crates to keep larger critters out of them, but the results have been underwhelming.

Wed, 09 Oct 2019 21:22:46 GMT

Donno about mice, we have voles. Pressure seems to fluctuate a lot from year to the next.

Thu, 09 Jan 2020 17:06:27 GMT

I'm just waking back up to this thread, sorry! I have definitely noticed increases mice nesting under black plastic mulch- previous manager used, I don't. The silage tarp (down all fall so far!) not so much, but definitely increased gopher damage under both. Gophers are the scourge of my farm- sometimes I lose half a crop. I set about 10 traps a day, kill a couple a week. Herons and hawks catch a couple each week. I won't use poison, so the traps and the birds are all Ive got.

Tue, 21 Jan 2020 01:21:50 GMT

I have been using silage tarps I purchased 3 years ago from Farmers Friend and have noticed basically no damage. I think they are a great investment

Mon, 03 Feb 2020 00:31:25 GMT

I've used silage tarps and black woven landscape fabric for occultation. They are both very effective. I prefer the woven landscape fabric because it is water permeable. It doesn't breed mosquitoes like the puddles that form on silage tarp do. Voles are a BIG problem, and they cause a lot of damage. Snap traps are very effective. Last year a weasel moved in and cleaned up the voles completely. Does anyone have suggestions for creating and maintaining good weasel habitat (I don't have chickens)?

Fri, 21 Feb 2020 00:19:59 GMT

Greetings friends, new to the forum and no-till but really love the work and contributions of all. @kncdelano - I'm taking over a similar situation at a new growing site (also hoping to produce on about half an acre) that has been un-mowed meadow and has a handful of small saplings small on it. How long did you keep your silage tarp down in that field? or do others have a recommendation? I was thinking to mow it in early spring, tarping for 4-6 weeks, broadforking before sowing/transplanting and mulching with straw but this seems does this sound?

Thu, 05 Mar 2020 21:50:33 GMT

Established turf / meadow is hard to break in, takes a full season to break down under plastic in our experience. If you want to grow there this year you will either need to do an initial till or go with a mow+sheet mulch (cardboard )+ thick compost.

Sat, 07 Mar 2020 13:37:26 GMT

Thanks @huerta_tarruco. I think we're gonna go with an initial till and then cover after that. Any idea about how many bags per linear foot folks generally use? How much space did you convert and whats your growing zone? I'm trying to figure out how many bags we'll need to have on hand.

Sat, 07 Mar 2020 22:53:39 GMT

Bags? Do you mean rock bags to prevent the tarp from blowing away in the wind? I've had good experience with a bag at each corner and then 1 bag every 5 feet completely around the perimeter. If you have a few extra bags, throw them in the center of the tarp.

Sun, 08 Mar 2020 06:59:21 GMT

My zone is north spain hehe... That's the same latitude as maine, but it's milder. I agree one bag per 5 feet is usually enough, when extreme winds come it almost doesn't matter how much weight you put down it can wiggle loose apparently against the rules of physics. You can tarp as much space as you find practical really, whatever makes sense for your scale and plans. I work with tarp widths that cover 4 beds, makes sense in my context and is nice and manageable, other folks will find other measurements more fitting, no hard rules.

Mon, 09 Mar 2020 00:16:48 GMT

Great, thank you both. @huerta_tarruco - You're in Basque Country I assume?

Mon, 09 Mar 2020 22:28:07 GMT

Right next door... a less known province, Cantabria. :)