Factors That Affect Soil Temperatures On Two Important Ways

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Mulches can influence soil temperatures in two important ways. The first way is through absorbing or reflecting incoming light. Dark mulches, such as solid black or woven plastic, absorb solar radiation and can transfer this energy to warm the soil below. Lighter mulches, such as white plastic or straw and hay mulches, reflect more light and do not warm soil temperatures as much. Under warm summer conditions lighter mulches can be a benefit because they may keep soil temperatures lower and less variable, which can be an advantage to plants.
The second way that mulches alter soil temperatures is by reducing heat loss. Heat can be lost from soil through the evaporation of water or when air temperatures are lower than soil temperatures (such as at night). Mulches, both plastic and natural, can retain heat by reducing both of these losses. Using mulches can also require attention to watering because irrigation is needed when impermeable plastic mulches are used. Natural mulches must also be carefully chosen to avoid the potential for introduction of weed seeds or herbicides (for more information on these topics, see W-346D: The TN vegetable garden: Plant management practices).
Floating row covers
Also known as direct covers, floating row covers are usually nonwoven plastic films or agricultural fabrics that can be applied directly over crops. These covers can be installed in large sections that cover many rows in the garden. The edges are usually secured with soil,
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