Mulching means it is a process of covering the soil and make more favorable conditions for plant growth, development.
Mulching is forming the protective layer around the plant. The practice of applying mulch is a very old and effective technique.
It is beneficial for plant health, while it is creating a microclimate around the plant root zone.
Advantages of mulching
water conversion and weed control are the main benefits of mulch along with many other advantages in agriculture this are as follows
- Water conversion –
It prevents the direct evaporation of soil water hence crop required less water.
- Weed control –
This is the most important motive behind many farmers using mulching techniques. It helps to suppress weed growth.
- Soil moisture –
Helps to prevent water in the soil from evaporating and maintain soil moisture for a long time also preserve the constant humidity level in the plant root zone.
- Root development-
It creates microclimate near root zone; it is helpful for white root development of the plant on the upper surface of the soil.
- Substrate for plants, flower, and fruit –
It The mulching films prevent direct contact between soil and flower, fruit, other plant parts, so it helps improve flower, fruit quality.
- Pest control –
The mulching film reflects light, so pests like aphids and thrips, leafminer so easy to control. It is also very effective against nematode. While- Yellow mulching films attract whitefly help to control whitefly growth.
- Heat and cold insulator –
Mulching film act as heat and cold insulator in winter mulch help to prevent soil from rapidly freezing, while in summer it helpful for controlling soil temperature.
- Soil erosion –
Mulching becomes a barrier between soil and raindrop and slows down soil erosion process.
- Salinity level –
It is observed that there less salinity level around the dripper where mulch-film used.
Type of mulching
Generally, mulching has two main type organic mulching and inorganic mulching both mulch having own advantage.
An organic mulch is made up of the natural materials such as paddy straw, wheat straw, bark, dry grasses, wood chips, dry leaves, pine needles, sawdust, grass clipping, etc.
But this organic mulch material gets decompose easily and need frequent replacement also they attract insects, slugs, and cutworms.
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This is the most common material used organic mulch. Paddy and wheat straw is the most common mulching materials used for vegetable crop and fruit crop.
Among organic mulching materials, straw has a long life in comparison to other mulches like grasses, leaves, sawdust.
Paddy straw and wheat straw after decomposition makes the soil more fertile.
Grass Clipping Mulch
This is one of the most easily available material. Green grass or dry grass used for grass clipping. After decompose grass provides nitrogen to the soil. In rainy season green grass development of its own root system, so my suggestion uses dry grass for mulching.
Limitation of Organic Mulching
- organic mulch sometimes make an adverse effect in the poorly drained soil it makes the soil too moist hence oxygen level near root zone decreases.
- Many organic types of mulches provide shelter for insect snails and mice.
- Grass and straw mulch contain seed so they may become weeds.
In the Inorganic mulching material like plastic films, geotextiles, Gravel, and pebbles can be used as inorganic mulch.
Inorganic mulches are extensively used in commercial agriculture. Plastic mulch is the most common material used among of all inorganic mulches. It does not decompose easily.
Plastic mulch made up of polyethylene material the approach use plastic in agriculture is called plasticulture.
In plastic mulching, there are various type plastic mulching available they use according to crop and need.
Clear plastic mulch
This type of mulch allows soil warm. This mulch mostly used in the cooler area, if you to take the crop little early then use this clear mulch this mulch useful for strawberry cultivation in the winter season.
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As the name suggests in black mulch both side of this is black in colour. This mulch doesn’t transfer any kind of light. It helps in conserving moisture, controlling the weed.
Yellow- Brown Mulch
In this type brown side is touching the soil and yellow is facing upward. It is used in the area where you have a lot of infestation of whitefly. Yellow colour attracts whitefly so when whitefly come into contact with mulch due to sun heat they killed.
silver- black Mulch
Silver- black very popular most popular in the farmer. This mulch suitable for almost every crop. This mulch reflects 27% off the light back to the fruits and plant; it helps in the better colour development. It is observed that in Pomegranate and strawberry fruits are more premontane in colour.
White – black Mulch
This is my favourite is mulch because after serval experiment we found that white mulch is showing more healthy plant as compared to black and silver mulch.
White- black mulch transferred more than 60% of the photoactive radiation back to the plant hence enhancing the plant growth, and the plant becomes thickest and stronger leave with lesser insect and pest attack and disease.
Therefore, you get higher production. In summer it performs better.
How to select good mulching
Selecting right mulch martial is an important decision for the farmer. To get maximum benefits from mulching right mulch film must be select
For vegetable crop, film thickness ranges from 15 microns to 30 Micron while for orchids crop film thickness ranges for 100 microns to 150 microns
Depend Upon crop type select a proper thickness. For vegetable crop choose 30 microns if you are using over one year. In a case for small duration crop use 25 microns.
For Orchard crop where longer durability is needed if the soil contains so much stone then select 150-micron film otherwise select 100-micron film.
Test mulching film
Take a small piece plastic mulching paper check it against the sunlight if it is transferring the light don’t ever use.
Buy quality material form renewable source
A good mulching paper possesses long durability, airproof and Thermal proof ( they don’t pass any light or very less amount light ) characteristic. In India, only few mulching manufacture companies are following this parameter So buy mulching film from the renowned source.
list of crop showing the good result after using plastic mulch
|Vegetable crop||Orchard crop|
How to install mulching
In vegetable, crop mulching should be done at the time of bed preparation, but in Orchard crops, it should be done just after plantation.
- Mark the rows in the field before installation of mulch film.
- Prepare the primary bed.
- Apply Farm Yard Manure and a basal dose of 100 kg DAP and 10:26:26+ MgSO4 @ 50kg per acre. Mix the FYM thoroughly in soil with the help of rotavator.
- Prepare the final beds with top width 75-90 cm for two-row crops like Capsicum, Cauliflower, Cabbage and for single row make top width 45-60 cm for crops like Tomato, Brinjal, Chilli, Cucumber.
- Before installation, make sure that the bed is flat and remove the previous plant materials like big stone, branches, stem, etc. which can damage the mulch.
- Put drip lateral on the bed and check they working or not.
- Install the mulch film by stretching evenly on the beds either manually or mechanically such that the mulch settles well on the bed.
- Cover the corners of the mulch film (up to 20 cm from both mulches ends) along the bed length in soil (Tip – the darker side of mulch always facing toward soil)
- make a hole with the help of hot pipe or stainless Steel glass.
Use mulch for boosting crop yields and productivity.
Use only quality martial and according to crop need. If you have any quires, suggestion, please comment.