Using plastic films to impact microclimates

These resources detail the process and findings from an applied research project that studied the effects of nine commercially available plastic films as mulches and as crop protection. The research project that tested how various crop covers impacted the microclimates of growing crops. The crop covers were evaluated to see whether they could extend the growing season and/or reduce the risks and uncertainties with increased weather variability.

The trials were conducted on farms in three locations: UBC (Vancouver), Westham Island (Delta) and Soda Creek (Cariboo).

The two-year project studied:

  • Using plastic mulches to impact soil temperature and surface energy balance
  • Using plastic films in low tunnels to modify microclimates and enhance plant growth

Some of the project findings included:

  • Black and clear plastic mulches can increase soil temperature near the soil surface by ~40%
  • High reflectivity plastic mulches can cool soils by ~20%

Details about yield results in low tunnels are also included in the full report. A video provides an overview of the project:


Project Report - Modification of Radiation and Energy Balances Using Plastic Films as Soil Mulches and In Low Tunnels - 2018

950 KB, pdf

Research Summary - Using Plastic Films in Low Tunnels for Modification of Microclimate and Enhancing Plant Growth - 2018

413 KB, pdf

Research Summary - Effects of Various Plastic Mulches on Soil Temperature and the Surface Energy Balance - 2018

416 KB, pdf