1 What is EcoCover?

What is EcoCover?

We believe EcoCover is the world’s first complete mulch mat designed to replace plastic ‘on the ground’, that is historically used in landscaping, horticulture, agriculture and forestry.

EcoCover is an organically certified paper mulch mat primarily manufactured from waste paper removed from the landfill waste stream. The mat is uniquely manufactured in the form of a continuous laminate (sheet) that will suppress weeds; promote plant growth; conserve water; is fully biodegradable; will moderate (extreme) soil temperatures; eliminate or reduce the use of herbicide; reduce plant mortality; carry beneficial additives within the laminate to deliver to both the soil and plant root system; allows for flexibility in the manufacturing process in terms of roll and square sizes / and useful life as a result of the laminate thickness, and much more.

EcoCover is ‘the responsible choice’ when it comes to purchasing weed suppressant products, reducing landfills, conserving water and removing plastic from the landscape and landfills.

Proof of EcoCover’s unique characteristics is that EcoCover mulch and seed mat is patented in 21 countries.

EcoCover is also IFOAM organic approved and Eco-label licensed – both of these accreditations are world firsts.

View Independent Product Endorsement Letter

2. How do I use EcoCover?

2.1 Does the soil / ground require special preparation prior to laying?

The ground preparation required is the same for other mulches. However with EcoCover it is important sharp rocks are completely removed as when the product is wet they may penetrate the mat. We recommend you refer to our site preparation notes in the link below.

2.2 Is the mat easy to handle and lay?

The mat is easily cut, handled and laid. There is no discernable difference between the laying procedure for black plastic (woven and extruded), other non organic mulches and EcoCover. The product is completely inert, non toxic, non allergenic and no skin contact issues exist to our knowledge.

View the recommended laying and pinning process

2.3 What sizes and shapes of the mat are available?

View Product Information for standard roll and squares sizes
Special square sizes and roll widths / lengths may be available upon request.

2.4 How do I cut the mat to a particular size?

EcoCover’s standard range will suffice for most requirements, noting in particular the overlap requirements for rolls laid adjacent to one another. Non standard sizes are easily cut either with large sharp scissors or a cutting knife / blade.

View the Recommended Laying and Pinning Procedure

2.7 What is an EcoPin?

EcoCover has developed a world first degradable pin formulation that has good impact strength, good life and does the job perfectly. The EcoPin is a combination of natural polymers and is manufactured via an injection moulding process with zero waste.
The EcoPin is approved for use under both our organic certification and eco-label license as it will degrade over time. We do however recommend the EcoPin is removed from the soil once the mat has degraded.

EcoCover (New Zealand) Limited does offer a ‘buy back’ scheme (conditions apply) where large quantities of EcoPins are used.

2.8 Do I need to fertilize the plants before or after laying the mat?

No in such applications as landscaping and revegetation.

Yes in such applications as row crop plantings where a grower would normally apply an appropriate base fertilizer dressing, however additional side dressing should not be necessary due to the fertilizer incorporated in the EcoCover mat.

Uniquely, EcoCover mulch mat is pre-enriched with an organic fertilizer manufactured from a natural, renewable resource. The mulch mat has sufficient fertilizer to provide a continuous application of nutrients to the soil during the mat degradation process.

2.9 Do I need to use herbicide to control weeds before or after laying the mat?

Massey University’s independent research proved EcoCover to have superior weed suppression properties to that of black plastic during the useful life of the mulch mat.
[View Product Attributes 2.5 Weed Control]
[View Product Attributes 2.9 Herbicide reduction or Elimination]

2.10 Do I need to irrigate more or less with EcoCover mulch mat?

Much less.
Southern Cross University’s independent research proved that EcoCover can conserve more than 80% of the soil moisture beneath the mat, thereby saving considerable water usage and cost. This is a unique product attribute.
Following rain / irrigation, as EcoCover begins to dry it forms a barrier that holds the ground moisture below the mat, unlike other fully permeable mulch products. Other mulches will allow water to transfer down through the mat; however being a geofabric construction or static mulch, evaporation will also take place through the same holes removing much of the water from the soil back into the atmosphere. EcoCover effectively retards the evaporation process.

View Product Attributes 2.4 Water Conservation

2.11 Can I use EcoCover on my organic certified farm or orchard?

Please check with your organic certifier prior to use.

2.13 Can I lay EcoCover in wet conditions?

This is not recommended although EcoCoverRF, the hessian reinforced product is suitable.
EcoCover is a reinforced paper product laminate and requires a degree of structural integrity during laying and planting.

View Product Attributes 5. Product Strength

2.14 Can I walk on EcoCover if it is wet?

This is not recommended.
As the mat softens with the uptake of precipitation (rain / irrigation) it becomes very soft and molds / adheres to the soil surface. At this stage the mat can be disturbed by boots and shoes. As the mat dries it becomes progressively sturdier and will easily resist foot pressure.
Should any damage occur, patching is easy.

View Recommended Laying and Pinning Procedure

View Product Attributes 5. Product Strength

2.15 How do I make EcoCover look attractive in my garden?

Exposure to the sun will whiten the mat’s appearance. There are a variety of ways to cover the mat should that be required. If bark or some organic mulch is used over the mat, the thickness required will be just sufficient to cover the mat’s surface as the EcoCover will be providing outstanding weed suppression, not the bark.

2.16 Can I lift the mat and reuse it elsewhere?

This is not recommended.

One of the unique key product attributes is 100% biodegradability. The mat will slowly degrade into the soil and in doing so; it binds itself to the soil surface. Removing the mat at some later date would be extremely difficult due to the possibility of tearing, but also due to the fact that the biodegradation process is now underway, possibly well advanced and adhesion to the soil surface has begun.

2.17 Can I buy the mat in different colours?


For example, a red coloured mat to improve the reflectivity from the mat’s upper surface and trick the plants into thinking they have competition from neighbouring weeds is being researched at Massey University (commenced November 2005).

A red mat (squares) is presently being supplied for a specific cloche technology to an Australian customer from the Auckland manufacturing plant.

Other colours can possibly be manufactured to your specific requirements – please enquire from your local manufacturing plant. A price premium may apply.

2.18 Can I use the product on steep slopes and high wind areas?


EcoCoverRF has been specifically designed for this purpose.

3. What are the properties of EcoCover?

3.1 How does EcoCover save me money?

The combined benefits of EcoCover mulch may provide you significant cost savings in any or all of the following:

  • Weed control – for the life of the mat
  • No herbicide maintenance periods following planting
  • No fertilizer application as a secondary process
  • Accelerated plant growth
  • Increased yield
  • Higher quality produce
  • A possible reduction in plant mortality
  • A possible cost saving in plant density when landscaping

3.2 I refuse to use plastic and prefer degradable weedmats, such as bark or wool. Why should I change to EcoCover?

EcoCover is the world’s most complete mulch and will provide significant benefits in terms of weed control; 100% biodegradable; water conservation; plant growth; healthy soil; a better environment in respect of the landscape and landfill usage; a reduction of harmful herbicides and groundwater leaching; possibly plant losses; better yields and quality; a unique delivery mechanism (e.g. fertilizer enriched).

The vast majority of mulches do one thing in particular to one degree or another – inhibit weed growth. EcoCover’s product attributes will not only inhibit weed growth but much more: benefiting the environment, the soil and the plants.

3.4 Will the ink in the waste paper be detrimental to the soil?


To comply with the New Zealand Government’s Ministry for the Environment eco-label audit, the auditors required an independent laboratory analysis of exactly what might be in EcoCover that could be environmentally unsafe. There were no harmful trace elements, including inks, in the mat analysis.

View the EcoCover Leachate Analysis Report

3.5 Is there any newsprint in EcoCover mulch mat?


Research into a new EcoCover mulch mat specifically designed for cropping situations is under development (early 2006). This modified cropping mat may contain some (a percentage by weight) newsprint in the waste paper component however the above will still apply in terms of a nil effect on the soil health as a result of the newsprint ink.

3.6 Do I have to remove the mat from the soil after its useful life?


EcoCover is 100% compostable and biodegradable (Massey University research).
EcoCover is one of the few products in the world that is manufactured from recycled waste materials (up to 85% by weight) and is itself 100% recyclable, 100% biodegradable and eco-friendly.

View Product Attributes 2.2 Compostable

View Product Attributes 2.3 Biodegradable

3.7 What happens to the soil if I plough in or bury EcoCover?

The mat will biodegrade and largely be converted into beneficial worm caste.

Ploughing into the soil will not harm farm machinery and the product contains no harmful residues whatsoever. In such applications fastening pins would not be used.

View Product Attributes 2.3 Biodegradable

3.9 Is fertilizer impregnated into the mat?


This feature is one of EcoCover’s unique attributes. The mat matrix is the delivery mechanism of an organically approved fertilizer that over time will gradually leach into the soil.

EcoCover New Zealand Limited presently incorporates an approved organic fertilizer, itself manufactured from waste product into all of their mat production.

3.10 Is there anything harmful at all in the mulch mat?


EcoCover contains no harmful trace elements. The mat is not (just) environmentally neutral, but environmentally beneficial.

View the EcoCover Leachate Analysis Report

3.11 Will it save water usage?


Massey University and Southern Cross University research has proven this attribute to be of major importance and potentially EcoCover’s most important attribute for world agriculture.

View Product Attributes 2.4 Water Conservation

3.12 Will it feed the soil?


Massey University research. The mat is 100% biodegradable and during the degradation process provides a perfect environment for the worm life to come near the soil surface (unlike plastic which effectively sterilises the soil due to transferred heat from the sun). The mat will gradually be turned into worm caste, feeding the soil.

View Product Attributes 2.3 Biodegradable

View Product Attributes 2.4 Water Conservation

3.13 Will it promote plant growth?


Massey University and Southern Cross University research.

View Product Attributes 2.6 Promotes Plant Growth

3.14 Will it stop weeds?


Massey University and Southern Cross University research.

View Product Attributes 2.5 Weed Control

3.15 Will it even out soil temperature fluctuations?


Southern Cross University research in respect of high temperatures is well documented.

View Product Attributes 2.7 Moderates and Conserves Soil Temperature

Research at Trondheim University (Norway) is presently underway during the northern 2005 winter to determine the beneficial effects of EcoCover in very cold climates – Trondheim is located 500km south of the Arctic Circle.

3.16 Will it conserve moisture in the soil?


Massey University and Southern Cross University research has proven this attribute to be of major importance and potentially EcoCover’s most important attribute for world agriculture providing a direct cost saving to growers. Water savings up to 80% may be achieved according to our University research.

View Product Attributes 2.4 Water Conservation

3.18 How does the mat improve the survival rate of my plantings?

EcoCover provides outstanding weed protection thus preventing weeds competing with the new plantings for light, nutrients and moisture.

View Product Attributes 2.5 Weed Control

Vigorous worm life beneath the mat will improve soil and root quality.

View Product Photo Gallery Front Page Worm Life Photo courtesy Massey University.

Moderating soil temperature and conserving moisture will provide the best possible environment for new plantings to become well established.

View Product Attributes 2.4 Water Conservation

The degradation of the mat will provide supplementary nutrients via the fertilizer enriched mat.

EcoCover will provide your new plantings with the best possible survival and growth environment compared to any other mulch on the world market.

3.19 Will it save labour and transport costs?

This depends on the type of mulch being used. Generally for mulches that are in roll or square form (geofabric type materials), the transport costs, handling, ground preparation and laying are very similar to that of EcoCover – the major difference with EcoCover being a substantial saving in remedial and maintenance costs (both transport and time) after planting as well as healthier soil and excellent plant growth.

With bulk mulches such as bark, the cost structure is entirely different. Such products require bulk hauling (usually several times to deliver to the place of application) at an ever increasing cost of transportation; then it is usually dumped in bulk before further bulk moving (by front end loader for example); or by hand loading and wheel barrow; the variation in thickness (a direct cost) is huge and control of these costs are very difficult to determine and monitor. The true cost of bulk mulch, even if the raw material source is very cheap, is high and frequently high post planting maintenance costs add to this.

3.20 Is EcoCover cost effective compared to what I normally use as mulch?

A one time application that is:

  • Cost effective to transport
  • Easy to lay and handle
  • Delivers outstanding weed suppression during the life of the mat
  • Delivers a fertilizer to the soil as the mat degrades
  • Reduces plant mortality and will provide superior growth to plants
  • May reduce the number of plants required to deliver the same visual (landscape) effect
  • Saves water usage, an ever increasing cost
  • Never requires to be removed from the soil and land filled
  • Reduces post planting maintenance costs
  • Helps the planet’s sustainability
  • Zero waste – no wasteful packaging, etc

3.22 Will the mat be attacked by birds, slugs, snails or rabbits?

Possibly. EcoCoverRF almost certainly not.

EcoCover New Zealand can advise on possible natural deterrents and other remedies. The mat will provide for a worm enriched environment beneath the mat and this may attract birds.

3.23 Are repellents available to prevent damage from birds, slugs, snails and rabbits?


EcoCover New Zealand can assist and advise having had experience in New Zealand, Australia and the United States with effective repellents.

3.24 What will happen to the worm population under the mat?

Due to the environment created under the mat by the moderating soil temperature attributes, coupled with the retention of moisture that provides a perfect soil environment, the worm life under EcoCover compared to other mulches, will increase and in some cases, dramatically. This may increase local bird activity.

3.25 How extensive and reliable are the independent research results?

Massey University’s Palmerston North (New Zealand) campus is recognised as a world leader in agricultural and horticultural research.

View www.massey.ac.nz

Southern Cross University in New South Wales, Australia also has an international reputation in scientific research.

View www.scu.edu.au

Our new research partners, Trondheim University, Norway and BioDiscovery New Zealand Limited, are both world leaders in agricultural and plant research.

View www.ntnu.no

View www.biodiscovery.co.nz

3.26 Is the mat available in squares and rolls?


Special sizes and colours can also be possibly made to order. Please enquire if a custom size is required. The EcoPin is the perfect complimentary product.

View Purchasing

3.27 Will the EcoPins degrade in the soil?


EcoPins are manufactured from a combination of natural polymers and will biodegrade over time.

3.28 Is the mat organic?


AgriQuality New Zealand Limited, a New Zealand Government State Owned Enterprise has fully certified EcoCover to the international IFOAM standard. EcoCover (NZ) Limited has elected not to continue with this registration. EcoCover has also been approved by BioGro New Zealand, also IFOAM accredited.

AgriQuality is a fully accredited member of IFOAM, The International Federation of Agricultural Movements. Founded in Switzerland in 1972, IFOAM has more than 750 member organisations and institutions accredited to it, from more than 100 countries.

View the IFOAM website

View the AgriQuality website

View the AgriQuality New Zealand Organic Certificate

3.29 Does the mat contain any plastics, petroleum derivatives or non organic ingredients?

None whatsoever.

Plastics are totally prohibited for our organic certification. Independent laboratory analysis has proven EcoCover to have no harmful additives whatsoever.

View the AgriQuality New Zealand Organic Certificate

View the EcoCover Leachate Analysis Report

3.30 Will the soil go sour under the mat as it does with plastic mulch mat?


Massey University research has proven the soil under EcoCover mat to be particularly healthy and rich.

Photo courtesy Massey University

3.31 I am happy using bark, why should I change to EcoCover?

Several reasons:

  • Bark will suppress weeds providing the layer is sufficiently thick. EcoCover is more cost effective once transport; labour; the thickness of the bark layer; site handling; and post maintenance costs (possible plant replacement / herbicide use to control weeds) to the plants have been taken into account.
  • Bark is often packed in plastic carry bags, especially for retail, thus contributing to the world’s plastic waste. EcoCover achieves 100% zero waste when used, including any packaging.
  • Bark will conserve some water, however the nature and structure of the cover will also allow for evaporation. EcoCover is proven to conserve 80%+ of water – an increasingly scarce and expensive commodity in many parts of the world.
  • Bark will degrade in a landfill, paper will not, therefore EcoCover provides a sustainable solution to landfill problems by removing paper from the waste stream.
  • By all means use bark for decorative purposes over EcoCover (by way of a very thin layer – in other words, minimal cost) mat, but to ensure your plants get the best possible start, EcoCover is vastly superior to bark as a mulch.

3.32 Does the mat have a shelf life before laying?


The mat is best held in dry storage until required.

3.33 What is the Environmental Choice label and what does it mean?

EcoCover is the first paper mulch mat in the world to secure an internationally accredited eco-label license and is subject to an annual audit to ensure the very high standards required for this type of certification are being maintained.

EcoCover (NZ) Limited has received certification to use the prestigious Environmental Choice New Zealand Label, a New Zealand Government initiative. Few New Zealand products meet the high environmental standards required to qualify. EcoCover mulch mat underwent a rigorous, independent audit of the product’s specification prior to being approved.

View the New Zealand Eco-labelling Trust website

View Environmental Choice New Zealand License

View the Ministry for the Environment Letter of Accreditation

Internationally, similar labels for manufactured products subscribing to such high environmental standards and auditing processes are very valuable, especially for the organic and domestic retail markets. Such labels confer a high level of confidence in the consumer’s purchasing decision to buy environmentally responsible products. Such brands have high recognition with consumers and usually generate a ‘value added margin’. Environmental Choice New Zealand is an accredited member of the Global Eco-labelling Network (GEN).

View the Global Eco-labelling Network (GEN) website

4. What are the environmental benefits in using EcoCover?

4.1 What is the percentage of recycled content in the mat?

Up to 87.77% by weight depending on the mat construction.

4.2 Is EcoCover saving our landfills from paper waste?

The total recycled content used by each EcoCover manufacturing plant operating a single shift per day is (max.) 9,045kg per week of waste paper removed directly from the landfill waste stream. The great news is that this landfill volume is made to literally disappear into the soil in a beneficial way due to the EcoCover mat technology.

EcoCover removes landfill volume permanently. Many, indeed most recycling enterprises and products will eventually end up incinerated or in a landfill. EcoCover disappears thus permanently taking away landfill volume.

EcoCover – making a difference to global sustainability and the planet’s environment.

4.3 Is EcoCover saving our landfills from plastic waste?


By using EcoCover as a plastic replacement you will achieve two significant environmental benefits:

  • Paper is removed from the landfill waste stream and allowed to 100% naturally biodegrade.
  • EcoCover is a plastic replacement and therefore less plastic will go into the waste stream if EcoCover is used as a direct replacement.

Legislation is being passed in various countries including the United Kingdom and the United States making the disposal of plastic waste more difficult and expensive. For example, the use of pesticides on the plastic in certain States now renders this to be a hazardous waste material incurring a premium penalty for disposal. This trend will only continue and become more problematic for growers. EcoCover is a perfect substitute offering so much more as a comprehensive mulch.

4.4 Will EcoCover harm the soil?


EcoCover provides a nutrient for worm life thus increasing the worm population. If the mat is ploughed into the soil it will be totally consumed by worms over time.

View the EcoCover Leachate Analysis Report

4.5 Will it save both water usage and groundwater pollution?


EcoCover will conserve significant quantities of water and the product’s outstanding weed suppressant characteristics will stop weeds and in doing so will reduce or totally eliminate the need for harmful herbicides.

4.6 How does the mat eliminate or reduce herbicide usage?

Our University research has proven EcoCover to be a most effective weed suppressant during the life of the mat, providing plants with accelerated growth thus developing earlier plant foliage to prevent further weeds germinating as the mat naturally biodegrades away.

Harmful spray, overspray, soil contamination from repeated herbicide applications and possible worker health problems are eliminated with EcoCover.

4.7 Is EcoCover safe to use?

Perfectly safe and beneficial to the environment.

View the EcoCover Leachate Analysis Report

4.8 How committed is EcoCover to global sustainability?

We must begin to live off the planet’s interest rather than its capital. Our future growth, product development and acquisition strategy and is firmly based on our founding principle of sustainability.

“When one tugs at a single thread in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world”” John Muir.

View EcoCover’s Three Pillars of Sustainability

6. Future Product Development

Uniquely, the EcoCover paper laminate provides a delivery mechanism for a wide range of additives that will open up many new market opportunities and add substantial value to certain mats. Below is a very short list of our current research, development and future research projects.

6.1 Seed Mats

EcoCover has full patents for the seed mat technology in 21 countries. The prospect of delivering to the market a strip of seed enriched EcoCover that simply requires planting and watering is very exciting. This will be a world first in terms of the products ability to deliver commercial quantities of seed mat with good structural integrity.

View Worldwide Patents

6.2 EcoPot

Millions of plants are planted out of plastic pots / bags daily. All of this packaging is ultimately being dumped into landfills. Imagine burying the plant in the original container and that container being fertilizer enriched and degrading over time to prevent root balling – that is the vision of the EcoPot presently under development. As plants grow and may require re-potting there is no need to remove the plant from the container and disturb the root bowl. Plants can simply be placed in a larger EcoPot if necessary.

6.3 EcoPot Top

Weeds are a constant problem in nurseries and decorative pots, competing for light, moisture and nutrients with the potted seedling or plant. The risk in using a herbicide to control the weeds and damaging the plant’s health or survivability is very high in such confined growing conditions. An EcoPot Top of a suitable size will provide a superior weed free growing environment and conserve moisture.

6.4 Insulation

Future development. EcoCover research has determined from independent laboratory analysis the insulation properties of the mat and in the future, research will be undertaken to develop a cost effective, fire retardant ceiling insulation material specifically designed to replace existing products manufactured from non renewal resources.

6.5 Packaging Material

Future development. A bag that may be used for bulk landscape products is under early development overseas.

6.7 Coloured mats

EcoCover New Zealand is presently supplying a particular coloured mat to an Australian customer.

Research has proved that a red coloured mat to improve the reflectivity from the mat’s upper surface will trick plants into thinking they have competition from neighbouring weeds. Red EcoCover is being researched at Massey University (commenced November 2005) to determine what benefits a coloured paper mulch may provide.

Other colours can possibly be manufactured to your specific requirements – please enquire from your local manufacturing plant.

6.8 Other beneficial mat developments

The unique mat technology provides us with a large number of opportunities in the marketplace.

Over time, our research and development commitment will develop products that use our technology and are beneficial and sustainable to the environment.

New patent opportunities are constantly being evaluated.