Sunday 5 July 2015

Mulching | Definition, Benefits and its Popularity

  • Just after sowing of crop a protective layer of material to the field soil surface is applied. This is called mulching
    • The material could be 
      • organic and biodegradable 
      • Mulching
      • Paddy straw, sugarcane bark, dry grass, trees leaves and even newspaper, wool, animal manure, saw dust, wood chips, peat moss etc
    • inorganic and non biodegradable
      • polythene sheets, rubber, plastic etc..
  • Very effective for pest management and disease control.
  • Weed seedlings cannot survive under the mulch, which also means not having to use chemical weedicides. 
  • Reduces evaporation from the soil bed. 
    • Less irrigation frequency
    • Protection from soil erosion
  • Fertility is enhanced with biodegradable mulches like dry paddy straw as they contain 50-70 per cent nutrients that slowly decompose in the soil
  • It creates an ideal environment for earthworms and other beneficial organisms to grow on the soil. 
  • Specially beneficial for turmeric, potatoes, sugarcane, melons and all types of vegetables
  • More even soil temperature is maintained
  • keeps fruits and vegetables clean
  • For small lawns
    • it keeps feet clean providing easy access to garden
    • a finished look to garden
  • Reduces compaction from the impact of heavy rains
Is it popular?

  • Hardly popular. Lets do case study of Punjab - one of the most important agriculture states
    • e.g. Punjab has ~12 lac farmers but mulching is done by only few hundred.
      • Punjab consumes highest average fertilizer and pesticide usage in India, apart from 75 per cent of its area under the ‘dark zone’ signifying severe groundwater scarcity
      • Punjab produces an estimated 38 million tonnes of straw annually
        • (over half of which is from paddy). 
      • Wheat straw is used as cattle feed, there is no such use for paddy straw.
      • About 80 per cent of the latter — some 16 million tonnes — is simply burnt in the fields after harvesting to clear the land for the next sowing. 
      • This abundant straw can potentially be used by every farmer for mulching, thereby addressing a major source of air pollution in the state

References: The Indian Express, Wikipedia


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