mulching techniques in agriculture | types of mulching in agriculture

What is mulching method of farming

Mulching is a technique which helps to save water by preventing the moisture inside the soil. Mulching increases the productivity of soil and this technique is helpful in reducing the growth of weeds as well. During heavy rainfall, mulching techniques prevent soil erosion. Mulch technique is more beneficial in such areas where water availability is less and water supply is a problem because mulching reduces the frequency of irrigation.

Mulching method meaning

Mulching method is created by the mixture of leaves, straw, crop residue such as sugarcane trash, mint oil residue, basil oil residue. Straw and stalks from Saral crops and fodder crops can be treated as the material of mulch. Generally mulching creates a suitable environment for the plant where it can grow comfortably and produce higher yield. The environment created through the mulching process consists of moisture content, needed humidity, suitable temperature, carbon dioxide and proper microbial activity in the soil.

Types of mulching In agriculture

mulching can be divided into two types: organic mulch and inorganic mulch. Organic Mulching - in this mulching one can use most of the cheap things that are freely available in farms, houses, go downs. Some of the organic mulch examples are compost straw, grass clipping, old leaves, shredded leaves, rotted leaves, wood dust, paddy straw, torn old sacks, shattered godown sacks, crop residue mulching like residues of mentha and basil, sugarcane leaves. Although, you can use all these objects in mulching but for better results you should choose them according to your crop.

Straw mulching

Most common and popular material used in mulching techniques. Straw is high in carbon content and can easily capture the nitrogen from the soil therefore one should use nitrogen fertilizer before using straw mulching. Straw and hay keeps the soil cool.

Leaves mulching

leaves such as shattered leaves, rotted leaves, tree foliages can be used as mulch materials. The drop of foliage from trees is easy to use as mulch.

Peat moss mulch for vegetable garden

Peat moss mulch is used in such farms where plants require acidic soil conditions. It is known for lowering the pH level of soil and it is also long lasting mulch.

Cons of organic mulch

  • Weed control is difficult in this method, plant foliage may contain seeds that turn into the weed.
  • Straw may help weed growth.
  • Organic mulching can provide shelter to pests like rats, snails etc.
  • Oxygen level near the roots is increased during organic mulching and this can produce adverse effects on low draining soil.

Inorganic mulching - in this technique plastic material is used for mulching practices.15 micron mulching paper, 20 Micron mulching paper, 30 micron mulching sheet and 25 micron mulching paper are mainly used in mulching technique.

The government is also providing subsidies in plastic mulching.

Usually, agriculture scientists help people who are using mulching techniques and they also share their knowledge with them about mulching technique benefits.

Types of mulching paper

  • One should select linear low density polyethylene bags for mulching paper farming.
  • Types of mulching materials can be divided mainly into three types of mulch films.
  • Image credit goes to pixabay
vertical farming technique pipes

Black paper mulch film - Black mulching paper use is quite often for maintaining moisture and black mulch paper is also useful in maintaining temperature However it may increase the soil temperature.

Silver mulching film - Silver mulching paper usually attracts the insects and destroys them.

White mulching film - White mulching paper is basically used in nurseries to collect all the soil ingredients.

Black silver mulching film - silver black mulch film is the most popular type of mulch used in farming moreover, silver black plastic mulch is suitable for all types of crop. The specialty of silver black mulch film is it reflects around 25 to 30% of light back into the plant and its fruit.

Black and white mulching sheet - It has soil cooling capability moreover it transfers around 60%of the photo active radiation into the plant that results in good growth of plant along with thick strong leaves.

Red and black mulch mixed together - It is a slightly partial type of material that allows radiation to pass through it and make the soil warm. It also helps in reflecting the light and is capable of providing early fruits and good increased yield.

Mulching areas

  • In such areas where water is a problem mulching reduces the frequency of irrigation.
  • It is used in greenhouse to maintain the temperature
  • Mulching is helpful in solarisation hence, can be used in soil borne disease affected areas.
  • Helpful in heavy rainfall areas because mulching structure can prevent soil erosion easily.

Moisture Conservation

  • Plastic film contains moisture barrier properties that does not allow the soil moisture to such water that evaporates from the soil surface under mulch film and condenses on the lower surface of the film and these droplets falls back. 
  • Through this process moisture is preserved for lot more days which automatically increases the period between two irrigations. 
  • The irrigation water or rainfall finds the hole near plant as a path to meet the soil.

Mulching techniques in Tamilnadu

  • In Tamilnadu the government has experimented a lot on mulching crops. In the beginning Tamil Nadu agriculture department has selected mulching in cotton crop (Kapas). The Agriculture department of Tamil Nadu has chosen 15, 20, 25 micron polyethene's for mulching in cotton crop. While selecting a mulching polythene sheet you should select linear low density polyethylene bags for mulching in crops. Tamil Nadu Agriculture Department tested all colours of mulching paper in the cotton mulching and they found 15 micron black mulching polythene is producing best results. 
  • Later Tamil Nadu has experimented on maize crop and they have used 15, 20 and 25 micron mulching polythene films In which 20 Micron polythene film was found most efficient among others. During the testing, the agriculture team also has the data of using water in mulching techniques. According to the agriculture expert they have used only 373 mm water while performing mulching with 20 micron polythene sheets. 
  • As per the agriculture expert during the maize mulching practices they produced around 5662 kg per hectare and spent around 463 mm water. For good comparison they also practiced mulching with straw and were able to produce only 5594 kg per hectare and spent 401mm. By comparing the both figures they got to know that paper mulching is much more productive than straw mulching. Paper mulching is also good for water saving. As per the final conclusion report 15 Micron 20 micron and 25 micron black polythene is the best for mulching process.

Mulching technology in agriculture FAQ

Welcome to the FAQ section of the post some of the frequently asked questions related to mulching technology are given below please have a look.

What is the cost of mulching paper?

Cost of mulching paper depends on size. 30 micron black/silver mulching paper 1.2 m and (4 feet wide), 400 meter is around Rs 1990 whereas 20 micron mulching film (width 4 foot) 400 meter is around Rs 1620

How to get a mulching paper subsidy in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana or in other states?

To get mulching sheet subsidy in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra or other states one should approach district farmer officer and district industry officer along with farmer account (kisan bahi) once these officer’s will confirm your farmer account then they will provide you subsidy on plastic mulching paper sheet from the government agencies.

What are the benefits of mulching in agriculture?

Some of the advantages of plastic mulching in agriculture are given below

  1. Mulching technique is capable of improving productivity by around 15 to 20 percent.
  2. It reduces the use of fertilizers by 25%.
  3. Mulching technique reduces labour cost.
  4. One can reduce weed removing cost by applying mulching techniques.
  5. You can save a good amount of water by using mulching paper technique.
  6. In comparison to conventional farming, mulching farming is more beneficial. Saving water is a revolutionary benefit of using film mulching technique.
  7. Mulching technique is capable of reducing total cost by 25%.
  8. Mulching method of farming is well known for good fruit productivity.
  9. Speed up mulching process results in higher yield production.
  10. Mulching is effective method against insects and diseases.
  11. Mulching process in agriculture is good for soil conservation.

How is mulching done in agriculture?

In the technique of mulching after preparing the field for crop biden is made in the field at 3-3 feet distance on top of which mulching means polythene is laid. Now the place where the plant is to be planted a 45 cm hole is made. Drip line is laid for irrigation under polythene drip line is drilled near the plant due to this water is used less in irrigation and secondly fertilizer is also saved.

How weed control is done by mulching process? 

To understand the concept of mulch paper weed control or how mulching weed control takes place please read the below given easy steps carefully.

  1. Black plastic film is best for weed control and it does not allow the sunlight to pass through on to the soil.
  2. According to biology photosynthesis does not take place in the absence of sunlight and black film prevents sunlight to pass through and it results in weed control. 
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