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The need to increase food production and improve the quality of our environment has prompted a search for materials to control wind and water erosion. This paper is a review of research and development associated with application, methods, and amounts of mulch types-crop residues, chemical soil stabilizers, and feedlot wastes (manure)-required to control wind erosion. An effective wind erosion control treatment is one that can resist a 38.0 m/s wind as measured at 15.2 m. Mulching has becomes an important practice in modern field production. Mulch paper reduces the application of chemical fertilizer and herbicide, weed control and maintain the land temperature. This article reviews the published research on mulches and discusses the opportunities that they solving the problem in agriculture.
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*Corresponding author’s e-mail:
Effect of mulching on soil and water conservation -A review
Rupali Sharma* and Sandeep Bhardwaj
Department of Horticulture, COA,
Chaudhary Charan Singh Haryana Agricultural University, Hisar-125 004, Haryana, India.
Received: 27-05-2017 Accepted: 12-10-2017 DOI: 10.18805/ag.R-1732
The need to increase food production and improve the quality of our environment has prompted a search for materials to
control wind and water erosion. This paper is a review of research and development associated with application, methods,
and amounts of mulch types-crop residues, chemical soil stabilizers, and feedlot wastes (manure)-required to control wind
erosion. An effective wind erosion control treatment is one that can resist a 38.0 m/s wind as measured at 15.2 m. Mulching
has becomes an important practice in modern field production. Mulch paper reduces the application of chemical fertilizer
and herbicide, weed control and maintain the land temperature. This article reviews the published research on mulches and
discusses the opportunities that they solving the problem in agriculture.
Key words: Conservation, Mulching, Plastic mulch, Soil properties, Weeds.
India has made immense development in agriculture
and food security. It began with the decision to adopt superior
yielding, disease resistant wheat varieties in combination with
better far ming knowled ge to impr ove pr odu cti vity.
Development of irrigation schemes, copious use of fertilizers
and pesticides, use of high yielding varieties made the green
revolution possible. The word mulch has been probably
derived from the German word “molschmeans soft to decay,
which apparently referred to the use of straw and leaves by
gardeners as a spread over the ground as mulch (Jacks et al.,
1955). Mulches are used for various reasons in agriculture
but water conservation and erosion control are the most
important objectives particularly in arid and semi-arid
regions. Mulching is the process or practice of covering the
soil/ground to make more favourable conditions for plant
growth, development and efficient crop production. Mulch
technical term means ‘covering of soil’. While natural
mulches such as leaf, straw, dead leaves and compost have
been used for centuries, during the last 60 years the advent
of synthetic materials has altered the methods and benefits
of mulching. The research as well as field data available on
effect of synthetic mulches make a vast volume of useful
literature. When compared to other mulches plastic mulches
are completely impermeable to water; it therefore prevents
direct evaporation of moisture from the soil and thus limits
the water losses and soil erosion over the surface. In this
manner it plays a positive role in water conservation. The
suppression of evaporation also has a supplementary effect;
it prevents the rise of water containing salt, which is important
in countries with high salt content water resources. Thus, it
facilitates more retention of soil moisture and helps in control
of temperature fluctuations, improves physical, chemical and
biological properties of soil, as it adds nutrients to the soil
and ultimately enhances the growth and yield of crops (Dilip
Kumar et al., 1990). In addition mulch can effectively
minimize water vapour loss, soil erosion, weed problems
and nutrient loss (Van Derwerken and Wilcox, 1988).
Mulching in improve soil health: Knowledge of the
physical properties of soil is essential for defining and/or
improving soil health to achieve optimal productivity for
each soil/climatic condition. This envisages that for
increasing crop production, soil must be maintained in such
a physical condition so as to allow adequate crop growth.
Unless the soil physical environment is maintained at its
optimum level, the genetic yield potential of a crop cannot
be realized even when all the other requirements are fulfilled.
No doubt, if these soils are managed properly for good
physical health, the yield potential of different crops can be
increased significantly.
Soil temperature: Soil temperature under plastic film is
usually high and also it is based on the color of the plastic
mulches. The black plastic-film mulch ed plots had
significantly lower soil temperature (1 to 2.80 C) than the
clear plastic-film mulched plots. Because much of the solar
energy absorbed by black plastic-film mulch is lost to the
atmosphere through radiation and forced convection (Schales
and Sheldrake,1963). Anikwe et al., (2007) observed that
the unmulched plots had the lowest soil temperature (about
1-3.80 C lower) at different times since planting compared
to plastic film mulched plots. Among different mulching
techniques plastic film mulching increases soil surface
temperature by influencing the heat balance and thus
increased the soil temperature and it also positively
influenced the crop emergence (Aniekwe et al., 2004).
Agricultural Reviews, 38(4) 201 7 : 3 11-315
Print ISSN:0253-14 96 / Online ISSN:09 76-05 39
Soi l water content: Th e black polyethylene mulch
maintained high soil water contents compared to the control
(no mulch) and the bare soil treatments (Li et al., (2001).
Improvement of the water use efficiency by better utilization
of soil water appears to be the best way to increase grain
yield in the semiarid areas (Zhao et al., 1995). The main
methods of increasing the water use efficiency include
reducing soil water evaporation, and exploiting deep soil
water so as to support shoot biomass accumulation and
optimize the dry matter allocation by selectively increasing
the reproduction (Li et al., 1997, 2000; Li and Zhao, 1997).
The plastic film mulch was promoted root growth and that
more roots were distributed in mid- and deep-soil, so that
the plant can uptake water from the deep soil and increase
the grain yield (Kwabiah, 2004).
Nutrient availability: The decomposition of organic
residues under plastic mulch adds organic acids to the soil
resulting in low soil pH, which may incr eases the
bioavailability of micronutrients (Mn, Zn, Cu, and Fe). This
was also evident from the increased Fe and Zn content in
soil under plastic mulch (Tisdale et al., 1990). The mineral
N content (NO3 and NH4+) in soil is high due to
mineralization of organic N with time, thereby; it increases
the availability of soil nitrogen. Breakdown of organic
material release soluble nutrients like NO3, NH4+, Ca2+,
Mg2+, K+ and fulvic acid to the soil intern increases the
soil nutrient availability under plastic mulch.
Crop growth parameters: Plastic mulch induces the early
crop emergence, so that it increased the biomass production
at early stages of the crop growth. Li et al., (1999) reported
that plastic film mulching leads to earlier seedling emergence
and earlier spike differentiation, which help to develop more
spikelets and more grains per spike in wheat. The
improvement in soil moisture and topsoil temperature under
plastic mulch hastened seedling emergence by 8 days on
average in wheat. Plants in mulching treatments entered the
maturation phase sooner and their maturation period was
longer. This change is favorable to partition assimilate that
is stored in vegetative organs, thus facilitating development
of the reproductive organs of wheat plants. It increases the
duration of repr oductive period so the yield will be
maximized (Li, et al., 2004).
Effect of mulching on weed control: The principle aim of
mulching is to cut off the light to the weeds and to suppress
their growth . Since every type of the mulch covers soil and
performs physical pressure to the weeds.
Biodegradable mulches: Carrubba and Militello, (2013)
presented some environmentally friendly techniques for weed
management, which proved to be efficient to increase seed
yields of cori ander, fennel and psyllium. Although
biodegradable films used in experiment positively affected
yields, they were not capable to suppress weeds. Organic
agriculture also uses some degradable inorganic materials,
such as gravel, which has been used as mulch from almost
forty years now (Fairborn, 1973). Besides the thickness of
this mulch, the gravel different grain size is also examined
(Qiu, e , 2014). Wang et al . 2014 investigated
implementation of gravel-sand mulches in watermelon
production and reported how it in fluen ces the soil
temperature. There are reports on application of many other
organic mulches, such as composted pine bark in Allium
aflatunense (Laskowska, 2012) or pine bark mulch in
Salvia splendens (Blażewicz-Woźniak, 2011). Sawdust
was recommended as effective mulch for acid-loving plants,
such as calla (Wright and Burge 2010) or blueberries (Haynes
and Swift 1986). Straw and other organic mulches, similarly
to composting process, decompose over time through
mineralization process, thus forming humus. Apart from its
primary use as organic fertilizers, compost positively
contribute to the soil structure and is frequently used for
production of various substrates and mulches (Matković,, 2015).
Non-biodegradable film mulches: Different polypropylene
(PP) black films were tested for efficiency in weed control
and the results proved significant increase in the plants height
(Fontana, 2006). Normally, black and other film colours
are used in a cultivation of strawberry and watermelon, since
they need higher soil temperatures for attaining desired
sweetness. Polara and Viradiya (2013) presented superior
yield and quality features of watermelon produced on silver-
black PE film, although it is quite known that conventional
PE films create a big trouble to the environmental. With
regard to this, Costa et al. (2014) compared efficacy of PE
film with five biodegradable films and proved no significant
differences in productivity and quality of strawberry.
Mulching advantages and disadvantages: The influence
of different mulch types on crop yield might be positive or
negative, related totheir weed suppression effect. Many
researchers proved positive effects of mulching on crop
growth and the obtained yield quantities and qualities
(Ramakrishna,, 2005). Regardless the colour, non-
biodegradable PP and PE films mulches proved to be the
most efficient in preventing of germination of seeds of the
most weeds and their further growth, though they are also
helpful in preventing loss of the moisture from the soil and
in balancing of its temperature (Momirović,, 2010).
Their application frequently bring about many other benefits,
such as reduction of the run-offs, increase in rain water
penetration, control of erosion, correction of the chemical
balance of the soil and reduction of pest and disease damages.
However, they also have some environmental disadvantages,
related to the removal and handling of their waste
(Briassoulis 2006).
Volume 38 Issue 4, December 2017 313
Mulches and insect pest and disease management:
Polyethylene mulches have been used to potential decrease
in insect and disease pests (Lamont, 1993). The influence of
mulches on plant microclimate and energy balance is a
function of transmittance, absorbance, and reflectance of
solar radiation (Ham et al., 1993; Lamont, 2005; Tarara,
2000). Host-seeking behavior of thrips can be disrupted by
incorporating ultraviolet reflectance, thereby reducing thrips
numbers on and around host plants (Brown and Brown, 1992;
Kirk, 1997; Kring and Schuster, 1992; Scott et al., 1989;
Stavisky et al., 2002). The use of highly ultraviolet-reflective
aluminized mulch as a bed covering provides this reflectance
to disrupt initial flights of thrips into a field (Brown and
Brown, 1992; Kring and Schuster, 1992; Scott et al., 1989).
Soil preparation and preplant fertilization: The soil
should be deep plowed or disked at least one month before
bed preparation. Incorporate crop residues well. Remove
all trash, rocks or clods from the field that may hinder the
application of the plastic. Preplant fertilizers can be broadcast
and incorporated into the beds as they are formed. Good
soil moisture (60 to 80% of field capacity) is necessary to
make firm, smooth beds (Granberry, 1994). It is important
that the bed be firm, so the soil doesn’t settle.
Mulch application: Plastic mulch is most efficient when
used in conjunction with drip irrigation. A drip tube can be
applied on the soil surface under the mulch or buried two
inches to three inches beneath the soil surface. Burial reduces
the chance for movement of the tube and for damage that
causes leaks. Either way, the tube must be installed prior to
the mulch. For spring planting, the mulch should be applied
at least seven days ahead of planting to allow time for soil
warming. Soil fumigation can also be accomplished during
mulch application. Fumigation is a specialized operation.
Make plans well ahead of time to allow for equipment
readiness as well as necessary waiting periods between
treatment and planting. Apply the mulch properly to realize
all of the potential benefits for your money. The plastic should
be in continuous contact with the soil, i.e. the bed should be
uniform with no dish shapes to hold the mulch off the soil.
Space between the soil and the mulch interferes with heat transfer
and prevents the soil from warming as quickly and thoroughly.
The edges of the mulch should be secured with a generous
amount of soil. However, do not apply more soil than is needed,
as this makes the mulch more difficult to remove.
Planting: The crop should be planted in the middle of the
bed. Transplants or direct-seeded vegetables can be planted
directly through the plastic with a machine or by hand. Starter
fertilizer solutions generally are applied to transplants to
promote early growth. Fertilize plants midseason by injecting
appropriate soluble fertilizers through the drip line.
Culture and management: Plastic mulch does not eliminate
the need for good cultural practices. On the contrary, more
intensive management is needed to ensure utilization of the
mulch to its greatest advantage. Crops should be observed
regularly for insect build up under the plastic around plant
openings. If the mulch loosens after installation and flaps in
the wind, apply a shovel of soil in the middle of the plastic
at regular intervals down the row to stabilize the mulch. This
can prevent the mulch from blowing off the row or damaging
transplants. Establish and follow a good integrated pest
control management program for the particular crop. Use
good judgment to assess the nutrition status of the plants
and act accordingly.
Removal: After the plastic has served its purpose, i.e.
produced at least one and preferably two or more crops, it
must be removed from the field. The plastic should be
removed as soon as possible after use ceases. Do not allow
the plastic to become overgrown with weeds prior to removal.
The plastic must be removed after the growing season. Do
not disc plastic under. Machines are available commercially
for plastic removal, but they can be expensive. In most cases,
the plastic must be removed by hand and disposed of in a
In the present scenario of globalization and health
consciousness demand for horticultural crops has increased
world over. Under plastic mulch, soil properties like soil
temperature, moisture content, bulk density, aggregate
stability and nutrient availability improved. Plant growth and
yield are also positively influenced by the plastic mulch due
to the modification of soil microclimate. Even though it has
many advantages, high initial cost, removal and disposal of
plastic materials are some of the limitations experienced by
the farmers. To overcome these limitations photo and
biodegradable plastic mulches can be effectively used for
sustain in g th e produ ctivity as well as controllin g
environmental pollution due to the use of plastics.
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... Several studies have confirmed the effectiveness of biodegradable films to keep or increase yield and crop quality in tomato, strawberry, and zucchini [10][11][12][13]. In particular, the biodegradable films allow the management soil temperature, keeping it cooler or warmer depending on the needs and reducing diurnal temperature variation [14,15]. In addition, the literature reports that biodegradable films: (i) increase soil humus content when buried, improving soil structure; (ii) promote the free exchange of gases between soil and atmosphere (higher soil porosity, lower soil compaction, decreased formation of surface crusts, and better soil drainage) [16]; (iii) reduce soil wind erosion [17]; (iv) promote both the growth and distribution of the crop root system [16]; (v) play a key role in integrated pest management, controlling insect pests [15]. ...
... In particular, the biodegradable films allow the management soil temperature, keeping it cooler or warmer depending on the needs and reducing diurnal temperature variation [14,15]. In addition, the literature reports that biodegradable films: (i) increase soil humus content when buried, improving soil structure; (ii) promote the free exchange of gases between soil and atmosphere (higher soil porosity, lower soil compaction, decreased formation of surface crusts, and better soil drainage) [16]; (iii) reduce soil wind erosion [17]; (iv) promote both the growth and distribution of the crop root system [16]; (v) play a key role in integrated pest management, controlling insect pests [15]. In previous research, Cozzolino et al. [18] compared a biodegradable film to PE and observed that lettuce grown on the first one achieved yields comparable to those obtained using PE film and without negative effects on quality. ...
... After manually placing the mulching films, the tomato plants were transplanted on 14 April 2021 at a density of 33,000 plants per hectare (row-to-row spacing within the paired row of 60 cm; spacing between the row pairs of 180 cm; plant-to-plant space on the single row of 33 cm). Ordinary soil fertility management was adopted with background fertilization carried out at two times: before the transplant, with an organ-mineral fertilizer (NP: [10][11][12][13][14][15][16][17][18][19][20][21][22][23][24], and at the transplant, with diammonium phosphate (NP: 18-46) per a total of 100 kg N ha −1 . During the crop cycle, nitrogen was provided in fertigation, as ammonium nitrate (26%) per a total of 200 kg ha −1 applied over 7 times. ...
Full-text available
Tomato is a great source of bioactive compounds, is important for human health, and is cultivated worldwide. However, the high inputs required for its cultivation must be sustainably managed in order to limit yield losses, thus obtaining high-quality and environmentally friendly production. In this perspective, we compared four biostimulant treatments, i.e., Ascophyllum nodosum extract-Bio; microbial biostimulant containing the microorganism Trichoderma afroharzi-anum-Mic; a combination of both-M-B; not treated-Control) and three mulch treatments (biode-gradable film Ecovio-ECO; biodegradable film MaterBi ®-NOV; bare soil-BS) and evaluated their effects on yield and quality traits in processing tomato. Both biodegradable films elicited a 27.0% yield increase compared to plants grown on bare soil, and biostimulants determined a 23.7% increase over the Control, with the best performance recorded for M-B (+24.8%). Biodegradable Ma-terBi ® film (NOV) was associated with higher total soluble solids (TSS) and firmness values (average of 4.9°Brix and 1.30 kg cm −2 , respectively), even if a significant effect of biostimulants was observed only for the second element. Carotenoid content was higher in non-treated plants grown on bare soil as well as hydrophilic antioxidant activity (AA), but in this case, no differences between bi-ostimulant treatments were recorded. The lipophilic AA in NOV-treated plants was about six and four times higher than observed in BS and ECO treatments, respectively; NOV also caused a 38.7% increase in ascorbic acid content over the Control but was not different from ECO. All biostimulant treatments elicited a 30% increase in phenol content compared to Control plants. Our findings highlight that microbial biostimulants based on A. nodosum extract and T. afroharzianum (both applied singularly and combined) can be considered a sustainable tool for increasing yield and improve some quality traits of processing tomato; in addition, we also confirmed the capability of biodegradable mulches, in particular, MaterBi ® , to enhance the agronomic performance of tomato.
... Soil moisture content was also determined at 15 days interval (15,30,45, 60, 75, 90 and 105 DATP) in each treatment at 0-15 cm depth by gravimetric method [8]. Samples were dried in oven at 105°C until constant weight. ...
... As compared to other mulches, plastic mulches are completely impermeable to water; it therefore prevents direct evaporation of moisture from the soil and thus limits the water losses and soil erosion over the surface. In this manner it plays a positive role in water conservation [15]. The black polyethylene mulch favourably influences the soil moisture regime by controlling evaporation from the soil surface and facilitates condensation of soil water at night due to temperature reversals. ...
The present experiment was conducted during winter 2021-22 at Polytechnic in Horticulture, ASPEE College of Horticulture and Forestry, Navsari Agricultural University, Paria, Gujarat, India to study the effect of different type of mulches on soil properties and weed control efficiency in cauliflower var. Pusa Snowball K-1. The experiment was laid out in Randomized Block Design (RBD) with three replications and nine treatments viz., T1- Black polyethylene mulch, T2- Silver polyethylene mulch, T3- Red polyethylene mulch, T4- Silver black polyethylene mulch, T5- White polyethylene mulch, T6- Paddy straw mulch (10 t ha-1), T7- Sugarcane trash (10 t ha-1), T8- Farmer’s practice (Two hand weeding with flood irrigation) and T9- Control (No mulch). The study revealed that the black polyethylene mulch had a positive impact on soil properties and weed control efficiency in cauliflower var. Pusa Snowball K-1. Black polyethylene mulch (T1) recorded maximum soil temperature (32.70 °C, 32.33 °C, 29.86 °C, 27.93 °C, 27.73 °C, 31.70 °C and 33.93 °C) and soil moisture content (23.65 %, 22.60 %, 20.98 %, 22.26 %, 21.55 %, 20.65 % and 22.46 %) at 15, 30, 45, 60, 75, 90 and 105 DATP, respectively. The highest weed control efficiency (97.26 %) was also recorded by black polyethylene mulch (T1) among the all treatments.
... Mulching for weed control was done by 12.50 and 5.26 per cent farmers in kharif and rabi, respectively. Apart from other benefits, mulching also reduces weed pressure (Sharma and Bharadwaj, 2017). Majority of farmers used paddy straw as mulch although few also used mustard straw and sugarcane trash. ...
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Despite the widely recognised environmental and human health benefits of organic and natural farming, its adoption in north-west India is quite low. Thus to know the status, cultural practices, inputs used, benefits, economic aspects and constraints of organic and natural farming, a geo-tagged survey of organic/natural farmers in five districts of Punjab in north-west India was conducted by Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana. Findings of the survey study revealed that adoption of organic/natural farming accelerated after the year 2005. Wheat (76.32%) and basmati rice (55.26%) were the major crops being grown by the farmers. Organic farmers were using farmyard manure, green manuring and vermicompost for soil health management besides liquid organic manures such as jeevamrit and vermiwash and buttermilk and botanicals viz. neem biopesticides, natural farming concoctions- agniastra and brahmastra for pest and disease management. Manual weeding was the predominant weed management practice adopted by more than 70 per cent of the farmers. It was found from the study that no farmer was practicing complete package of natural farming, but a few had integrated one or more practices of natural farming with organic farming practices. Farmers diverted their path towards organic/natural farming due to human health (32.89%) and environment concerns (39.47%). Lack of marketing facilities (60.53%) and labour-intensive nature of operations (59.21%) were found to be the major constraints in its adoption.
... Due to the mineralization of carbon-based-N with time, the availability of soil-N increases as mineral-N contents such as nitrate and ammonium ion in the soil is high. The decay of carbon-based material release essential nutrients like NO 3 , NH 4 + , Ca 2+ , Mg 2+ , K + and fulvic acid to the soil and increases nutrient accessibility of soil underneath plastic mulch (Sharma & Bhardwaj, 2017). ...
The concept of soil health has gained importance recently, recognizing the soil as a living entity. In the recent scenario of urbanization and excessive land use, agricultural land is subjected to degradation and desertification. For sustainable agriculture production and ecological interactions, there is a dire need for management strategies to improve soil health and quality. Mulching is among the important conservation strategies to enhance soil health by improving soil biota, organic contents, and soil aggregation. In this chapter, we encompassed the different categories of living entities dwelling in soil and their key activities to enhance ecological relations of soil. Based on the literature study, mulches are proved to be very efficient in improving soil biota, soil moisture retention, maintaining the soil temperature, nutrient dynamics, decrease in severity of soil contaminants, suppression of weeds, and control in insects pests. The addition of mulch in the soil fluctuate a number of indicators of soil biota, which account for soil health. Species diversity, microbial biomass, soil respiration, organic content, and enzymatic respiration mainly determine quality status of soil biota, which are influenced by mulches. We have also given the overview of indices of species diversity, i.e., richness, evenness, and phylogenetic indices altered by the introduction of mulches in soil and thus modify the ratio of pests predators. Moreover, based on field conditions, crop and mulch type, and environment-specific application of mulch can become more productive for soil conservation, plant growth and soil biota.
... Due to the mineralization of carbon-based-N with time, the availability of soil-N increases as mineral-N contents such as nitrate and ammonium ion in the soil is high. The decay of carbon-based material release essential nutrients like NO 3 , NH 4 + , Ca 2+ , Mg 2+ , K + and fulvic acid to the soil and increases nutrient accessibility of soil underneath plastic mulch (Sharma & Bhardwaj, 2017). ...
The increase in global population increases the demand in food production, and to satisfy food demand, researcher must increase the cultivated area and or decrease the inorganic fertilizer usage to control over environmental pollution. Effective management practices i.e., reduced or zero-tillage system, the addition of crop residue, crop rotation, and optimum nutrients application enhances the soil properties and promotes agricultural sustainability. In this current chapter, we critically reviewed the effects of mulching and tillage practices on physiological and chemical characteristics i.e., aggregate stability, soil erosion, organic matter content, nutrients availability, and microbial biomass of the soil. It was observed that integrated application of mulches with tillage practices results to improve soil temperature, soil erosion risk, bulk density, and porosity, infiltration rate, soil organic carbon, microbial biomass, nutrients availability, and moisture content of soil which result to improve weed infestation, root morphology, and crop production on sustainable basis. The current chapter can aid in determining the ecological significance of mulches and tillage systems on sustainable basis not only to overcome environmental degradation problems but also improving agricultural soils health on sustainable basis.KeywordsConservation tillageMulchesSustainabilitySoil qualityCrop productivity
... Due to the mineralization of carbon-based-N with time, the availability of soil-N increases as mineral-N contents such as nitrate and ammonium ion in the soil is high. The decay of carbon-based material release essential nutrients like NO 3 , NH 4 + , Ca 2+ , Mg 2+ , K + and fulvic acid to the soil and increases nutrient accessibility of soil underneath plastic mulch (Sharma & Bhardwaj, 2017). ...
Soil and water conservation are the important aspects in modern world, because of the scarcity of water, agricultural land degradation and soil loss mainly due to erosion. Mulching, a way to conserve both soil and water by covering it with different kinds of materials like organic (crop plant, compost, manures) or synthetic (paper, plastics, Aluminum foils). It controls evaporation rate and aids in managing soil and air microclimate. Through favorable microclimate, it improves soil physicochemical and biological properties. Mulches act as a soil cover to resist against erosion and provide congenial condition for plant growth. Mulching encourages soil and crop productivity, reduces the emergence of greenhouse gases and suppression of weeds. Plastic mulches are also becoming popular among farmers due to their low cost and easy handling. These materials have a greater importance than the organic ones as they are highly employable in controlled soil environment and could enhance soil-crop productivity. Mulching helps to balance hydro-thermal regimes by maintaining radiation flux, heat and water vapor transfer rate and soil heat capacity. Nowadays, biodegradable plastic mulches are employed which are relatively more sustainable as compared to conventional plastic mulches. The degradable nature of plastic mulches favors the microbial activities in soil, subsequently enhancing the productivity. The mulching could be effective in plant roots protection from hot, cold or drought conditions. This part covers the broader aspects related to application of mulches in maintaining microclimate and soil-plant productivity.KeywordsSoil and water conservationOrganic mulchesBiodegradable plasticsMicroclimateEnvironment
This article deals the importance and necessity of ecological farming. Agriculture is the backbone of India. We are all depend on the agriculture for food hence to get higher yield, we use lot of chemicals like harmful pesticides, fertilizers in cultivation of crops. These chemicals make the fertility loss of soil and also cause health issues to the consumers. The best solution to avoid these hazards, we should follow the ecological farming .Ecological farming is the system of production that excludes the synthetic inputs and includes agronomic, biological and mechanical methods like crop rotation, animal manures, organic waste, animal waste etc. which promotes the eco-friendly production.
The covering of soil surface, for creating suitable conditions for the growth of plants, either by organic or inorganic material is termed mulching. Mulching is found effective in soil and water conservation, weeds and salinity control, temperature moderation, reducing the cost of fertilizer and creating a suitable soil microenvironment for better crop growth and yield. This chapter highlighted different aspects of mulching including their types and nature. Secondly, the effect of mulching on the physical, biological and physicochemical properties of soil are considered parameters for determining the health of the soil. Thirdly, the impact of mulching on environmental conditions is also highlighted. This discussion made a skeleton for measuring the quality and health improvement of soil by mulching.
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An experiment was conducted during the rainy (kharif) seasons of 2017–18 and 2018–19 at the research farm of Dr. Y S Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry in Nauni, Solan, Himachal Pradesh to study the effects of different planting methods, mulches and the addition of natural organic acids (NAAs) on bell pepper (Capsicum annuum L.) growth and yield. The experiment involved 12 different treatments of 2 planting methods, 3 mulching levels, and 2 levels of NAA in a Randomized Block Design (Factorial) and 3 replications. The yield and its characteristics were shown to be highly impacted by planting methods, mulch material, and NAA levels. In terms of maximum plant height, early blooming, maximum fruit length, fruit width, fruit weight, fruits/plant, fruits/plot, and yield/ha, P1, M2, and N1 each stood out as the best. The raised bed planting technique with silver/black polythene mulch and NAA treatment @15 ppm at 30 and 45 days after planting (P1M2N1) resulted in the highest plant height, days to 50% flowering, fruit length, fruit breadth, fruit weight, number of fruits/plant, yield/plot and yield/ha. According to the findings, in the mid-hill conditions of Himachal Pradesh, the treatment P1M2N1 achieved the highest levels of yield and its attributing features.
As a practical agricultural technique in Northwest China, the sand mulch reduces the soil moisture loss of irrigated farmland under an arid setting. To understand the soil moisture variability affected by sand mulch, we selected an irrigated orchard of peach (Amygdalus persica L.) in Northwest China and examined the soil moisture movement conditioned by irrigation using a stable water isotope method. Based on the isotopic variability of continuously collected soil, plant, and irrigation water samples the infiltration and evaporation of soil moisture were assessed. The results showed that: (1) during the sampling period the average soil water content and infiltration volume of the sand mulch plot were 1.63% and 6.82%, respectively, which are higher than those of the uncovered plot, indicating a better soil water retention after sand mulch. (2) The slope of the evaporation line of the sand mulch plot (4.79) was greater than that of the uncovered plot (4.11), and the average evaporation loss of the sand mulch plot (0‐30 cm) was 10.29% lower than that of the uncovered plot. The average evaporation rate of the sand mulch plot was 5.02% per day, which is lower than that of the uncovered plot 8.41% per day. The isotope‐based evidence shows that sand mulch effectively reduces soil water evaporation, which provides a theoretical basis for agricultural water management and optimization of water‐saving methods for arid land.
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A field study was designed to evaluate the effects of various irrigation methods, raised beds, and plastic mulch on yield and fruit quality of bell pepper ( Capsicum annuum L.) Irrigation was scheduled on the basis of soil matric potential and monitored by Hg manometer tensiometers and soil moisture blocks. Trickle-irrigated plots were watered at soil matric potentials of −0.025 and −0.075 MPa, and sprinkled plots at −0.075 MPa. The combination of black polyethylene mulch and irrigation produced maximum yields, but frequency of irrigation had little effect on yield when peppers were mulched. High frequency trickle irrigation (irrigated 15×) and trickle irrigation of a lesser frequency (irrigated 5×) resulted in similar yields when peppers were mulched. The use of mulch without irrigation had a large effect on yield: yields from plots that were mulched but not irrigated were similar to yields from plots that were sprinkler-irrigated but not mulched. The percentage of marketable fruit was substantially reduced in the absence of irrigation or mulch, because of the high incidence of both solar injury and blossom-end rot.
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The Medicinal and Aromatic Plant (MAP) cultivation enters in a concept of rusticity and rediscovery of ancient traditions. Recently, MAP cultivation has been spreading in the marginal areas of the Piedmont Region (Italy). This can encourage the diversification of agricultural production and the conversion of current farms into farm guest houses. The creation of an array based on aromatic plants (i.e. infusions, liquors, cooking spices, fragrances) could introduce autochthonous and novel MAP cultivation and give an added value of the areas. The present research consisted of introducing MAP cultivation, according to the dictates of organic farming, in farm guest houses of the Pellice Valley in Piedmont. The experiments lasted from 2001 to 2004, testing two different polypropylene black mulches for weed control of rosemary, thyme and lavender cultivations in two sites, Rorà and Bibiana. Periodical samplings of plant growth consisted of canopy diameter and height measurements; visual observations were made to determine lifespan of the tested mulches. Results indicated that mulching technique favoured plant growth. At the Rorà site, thyme and lavender diameter was positively influenced by mulching. At the Bibiana site, the strong weed presence limited lateral plant development of thyme and rosemary, enhancing their growth height. For all the species considered in both sites no differences were found between the two types of polypropylene mulch tested.
Thrips were sampled in a commercial tomato field in southeast Arkansas with yellow sticky traps. The effect of the type of mulch used (black plastic, aluminum-painted plastic or no mulch) on aerial thrips population abundance was investigated. Thrips species identified included Frankliniella fusca (Hinds), F. tritici (Fitch), Sericothrips variabilis (Beech), Leptothrips mali (Fitch) and Haplothrips graminis Hood; F. fusca and F. tritici were most numerous. Aluminum-painted mulch was most effective in reducing the numbers of thrips captured, while black plastic was more effective than no mulch. Numbers of F. fusca peaked at five weeks after transplanting; however, numbers of thirps were low in all plots for the first three weeks after transplanting. Peak numbers of F. fusca trapped in the aluminum-painted plots were one-third the numbers in non-mulched plots, while numbers in the black plastic plots were intermediate. Effectiveness of the mulch in decreasing the numbers of thrips generally disappeared later in the season, as lower leaves shaded the mulch, and traps were raised to accommodate increasing plant height.
Numerous studies have examined the responses of pest and beneficial arthropods to plant diversification in ephemeral cropping habitats. Cruciferous crops, mainly cabbage and broccoli, are probably the most studied plants with respect to evaluating the impact of plant mixtures on insect population dynamics. This review examines the mechanisms influencing arthropod responses to floral diversification, specifically focusing on cruciferous crops. In many instances, mechanisms accounting for herbivores and natural enemy responses to plant mixtures are not thoroughly tested. Biological parameters of herbivores impacted by crop diversification were mainly related to the behavior of the insects studied. Mechanisms accounting for herbivore responses to plant mixtures include reduced colonization, reduced adult tenure time in the marketable crop, and oviposition interference. Tactics used for choosing companion plants, and the future perspective for mixed-crucifer crops usage are discussed. Manipulative studies involving cruciferous crops provide some evidence that habitat manipulation techniques (e.g., intercropping, undersown nonhost plants, vegetation borders) impact crop growth. However, the indirect role habitat manipulation plays in the population dynamics of insect pests and natural enemies still remains unclear in many systems. Quantitative data are needed to determine the level of change in plant quality brought about by companion planting that alters arthropod behavior.