Mulching is the process or practice of covering the soil/ground to make more favourable conditions for plant growth, development and efficient crop production. 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.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.
Mulching techniques for vegetable
Very thin film is used for short duration crops like vegetables.
Required length of film for one row of crop is taken and folded in ‘thaan’ form at every one metre along the length of the film.
Round holes are made at the center of the film using a punch or a bigger diameter pipe and a hammer or a heated pipe end could be used.
One end of the mulch film (along width) is anchored in the soil and the film is unrolled along the length of the row of planting.
Till the soil well and apply the required quantity of FYM and fertilizer before mulching.
Mulch film is then inserted (4-6”) into the soil on all sides to keep it intact
Seeds are sown directly through the holes made on the mulch film.
In case of transplanted crops, the seedlings could be planted directly into the hole.
For mulching established seedlings, the process of punching the hole is the same.
One end of the film along the width is burried in the soil and the mulch film is then unrolled over the saplings. During the process of unrolling, the saplings are held in the hand and inserted into the holes on the mulch film from the bottom side, so that it could spread on the topside.
Advantages of plastic mulching
It is completely impermeable to water.
It prevents the direct evaporation of moisture form the soil and thus limits the water losses and conserves moisture.
Mulch can facilitate fertilizer placement and reduce the loss of plant nutrient through leaching.
Mulches can also provide a barrier to soil pathogens
Mulches maintain a warm temperature even during nighttime which enables seeds to germinate quickly and for young plants to rapidly establish a strong root growth system.
Precautions for Mulch Laying
Do not stretch the film very tightly. It should be loose enough to overcome the expansion and shrinkage conditions caused by temperature and the impacts of cultural operation.
The slackness for black film should be more as the expansion, shrinkage phenomenon is maximum in this color.
The film should not be laid on the hottest time of the day, when the film will be in expanded condition.
Although it has some limitations ,but due to its lots of benefits farmer are interested in plastic mulching.Nowadays most of the farmers use plastic mulching for vegetable production and according to them vegetables production has also increased after using it.