Risk and uncertainty of plastic mulch adoption in raspberry production systems

This study intends to evaluate the various types of risk and uncertainties involved in the risk decision-making process of the processed raspberry business, where plastic mulch is a new production technique, drawing on the significance of risk and uncertainty. Participants involved in the use, research, outreach, production, and distribution of plastic mulch, particularly polyethylene (PE) mulch and soil-biodegradable mulch (BDM), were interviewed in semi-structured interviews. The results show that there are several types of risk, such as production, pricing, and hidden hazards, with production and price risks being the most important to all participants. PE mulch was rated as having a higher overall risk by industry representatives, but a lower risk by producers and the majority of research and outreach specialists. BDM was viewed as dangerous due to unknowns regarding durability, degradability, and potential environmental effects if BDM fragments do not break down easily. Although it will take time for additional research and efforts to communicate knowledge to a larger agricultural audience, the application of PE mulch and/or BDM can be advantageous for raspberry production systems.

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