Have you ever wondered why, at all, the farmers bother mulching around trees, shrubs, and perennials? When it is often expensive, has to be regularly re-applied, and doesn’t even totally prevent weeds. Do they only put in the efforts to mulch because it looks pretty? While it may look nice, the real purpose behind applying organic mulch is not merely aesthetic, nor is it solely weeds prevention. The most important purpose mulching around plants is that it creates one of the best environments for crop production in an urban setup where natural environment has to be mimicked.
Though organic mulching is an age-old practice and has been carried out since years now, after a certain period of time, biodegradable materials started showing their limitations and unavailability to meet the needs of vast crop production for the largely growing populace. As it is truly said, necessity is the mother of all inventions, we can say, a green revolution II began in the agricultural sector with the introduction of synthetic materials for mulching.
Plastics sheets, rolls, films, etc. have been used time and again and proven to be the best at different places for different crops in yielding better crop production with lower cost and efforts, reducing the wastage of water for irrigation and avoiding unnecessary development of weeds, diseases and limiting the use of fertilizers. The utilization of plastics in agriculture happened to be the boon for the farmers.
Alpha’s Mulches are spreading wide across the farmlands in India.
Let us bring into consideration what all wonders plastics is creating in the modern agricultural sector.
Plastics mulch films come with a unique quality of reflecting or absorbing sunlight and since weeds require the process of photosynthesis to grow, absence of sunlight prevents growth of weeds in the area that is covered by plastics mulch film.
Plastics have very good moisture barrier properties and the use of it in mulching application prevents moisture evaporation from the soil. Even if water evaporates from the soil surface under mulch film, it condenses on the inside surface of the film and falls back as droplets. The result is less water usage, sometimes up to 50%, depending on crop and weather conditions.
Cost of fertilizer goes down:
Use of fertilizers is common as it yields healthier crop but the downside of using too much fertilizer is that over time, it leaches down into the soil, resulting in poor soil quality and higher usage of fertilizers. Plastics mulching, along with drip irrigation, restricts water and fertilizer penetration into the soil, allowing an even and timely distribution of fertilizers, which in turn, helps the plants to grow faster and healthier. An approximate savings of 50% in the cost of fertilizers has been witnessed using plastics mulching along with drip irrigation. A great achievement, we must say!
Quality produce of fruits and vegetables:
Plastics mulching avoids ripened fruits and vegetables to touch the soil. This way there is a decrease in fruit rots and it also keeps the fruit and vegetables clean which, in turn, gives quality produce and better marketability.
One of the greatest advantage of plastics mulching is it reduces the water run-off by intercepting raindrops. Ideally soil erosion will be less than 4 to5 tons/ha/year and hence, the valuable fertile soil (humus layer) will be protected.
The use of plastics mulching modifies soil temperature. By applying mulch film, soil temperature can be reduced (in places where it gets too hot) to allow the crop to grow faster. The result of this is that within the same period, an addition crop cycle can be squeezed in.
Plastics mulching film reduce the effects of soil borne pathogens and in particular, silver-colored mulch film has the property to repel sucking pests like white flies.
Plastics mulching film affects plant micro climate by retaining soil moisture and changing root-zone temperatures, and the quantity and quality of light reflected to the plants; thereby, altering the soil energy balance and restricting soil water evaporation. This promotes plant growth and gives superior yields.