I was recently given a couple packages of Terrafibre vegetation competition mats to review. I received two packages, with five pads each. Here's a photo of the packaging:
The intent of these products is to set on the ground around a newly planted seedling. For the next few years, the mat will prevent competing grasses and vegetation from growing immediately adjacent to the young tree. This will reduce competition for scarce resources such as water and sub-surface nutrients, which should accelerate the growth of the planted seedling.
I opened these packages in early December, and I didn't have any planting projects happening at the time. However, I had just recently transplanted some conifer seedlings and some slightly larger deciduous juveniles into my backyard, and they were in a section of the yard which usually has waist-high grass and bushes by the time Fall rolls around, if I don't knock the vegetation down during the summer. So I figured that this area would be a perfect test area for the competition mats. I placed them all around deciduous seedlings, as you can see in the following photos:
I don't know the pricing on these products, and I suspect that they're going to be much too expensive for large scale reforestation projects (they're probably many times the cost of an individual seedling). However, I've used brush mats on large projects in the past, and at the time, they were made out of plastic. These Terrafibre products are much better for the environment, since they're not plastic. Also, their fibrous composition means that moisture will seep through them and be better able to nourish the tree.
I have a feeling that these are going to work very well. They might be very useful for large scale reclamation projects on highly sensitive sites.
I'll update this post in 12-24 months, once I have a better idea of how the products worked out!!