Looking for a new type of mulch for your garden? In the future, you might be able to use a wool mat as mulch. According to a recent article in "sheep!" magazine, the Hobbs Bonded Fiber Company of Waco, TX, has developed a wool mat for use in a variety of horticulture settings as a method to utilize lower grades of wool.

The three-eighth inch mat has been the focus of two years of research at the University of Minnesota at Morris and at a commercial apple orchard in eastern Minnesota, where it proved to be effective in eliminating weeds, improving fruit production in strawberries and increasing the production of daughter plants.

Bob Padula, a Minnesota Extension Educator and sheep farmer, has been working with Hobbs Bonded Fiber to develop the product and helped put together the research team to pay for and conduct the research. Padula, who also is an ASI consultant, says the task now is to get wool producers to see the value of the product and put together the logistics of economically producing it.

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