◆ Before relating the mulching technique with off-season vegetable production, we should know two basic Terminology:~
1) Mulching~Mulching is a general farming practice of covering surface soil either with organic or inorganic mulch material to produce valuable crops under protective agro-climatic conditions by maintaining a moderate environment both in warm & dry conditions surrounding the individual crop canopy.
2) Off-Season Vegetable~It’s also known as “Counter season vegetable”. Production of vegetables outside the regular cropping calendar, under adverse climatic & economic condition, when supply is low but prices are high, can give farmers better profits & consumers’ choice.
Name of some Off-season vegetable~ (Tomato, Brinjal, Vendi, Bottle gourd, Pointed gourd, Sponge gourd, Ridge gourd, Cucumber, Musk melon, Watermelon e.t.c.).
●Data shows that the development of polythene as a plastic film in 1938 & it’s a subsequent introduction as a plastic mulch in the early 1950s, which revolutionized the commercial production as plastic mulch.
● Mulching is required in off-season vegetable cultivation !! ~ We know that vegetables are short duration crops as compare to our field crops(like rice, wheat, maize, sugarcane, cotton, pulse crops e.t.c), furthermore we want to grow it during the off-season when the agro-climatic condition is not suitable for its huge production, so we require special care and attention from the sowing of seed to harvesting of produce. At present, many farmers throughout India have shifted to off-season cultivation despite many risks to fetch more profits.
●Off-Season vegetables are suffering from some problem
1)The adverse climatic condition in the off-season is not suitable for their prolific growth.
2)Moisture loss or gain problems from or in surface soil.
3) Annual or perennial weeds problem as they absorb water& most of the essential nutrients from the crop root zone and cause crop weed competition.
4) Various type of insect pest attack, mostly virus-carrying vector insects(like Leaf-hopper, White fly, Aphids, Mealybugs, Mites)
5) Some soil-borne plant diseases & pathogen borne(fungi, bacteria, virus) plant diseases also cause huge loss of produces in field conditions.
6) Lack of adjusts planting time by unskilled farmers.
7) Off-season suitable improved varieties are not available all time.
8) It’s possible on commercial-scale production & only in areas where marketing is not troublesome.
9) Off-season vegetables require regular supervision by farmers as they are more prone to damage.
◆ Here are some topics, we should do to get rid of such problems(described previously):~
So, Overcome from the problems, we as an Agriculturist, suggests farmers to use Various Mulching technique both in nursery and field condition.
●Flow chart given below, shows mulching technique…….
◆ Why experts suggest Plastic/Synthetic mulch rather than Organic mulch ??
1)It’s completely impermeable to water.
2)Reflective mulches may repel certain harmful vector insects.
3)As, vegetables are short duration crops, moreover it is being cultivated in the off season, Mulches maintain a warm temp. even during night time which helps the seed to germinate quickly and for young seedlings to the rapid establishment with a strong root system.
4)Synthetic mulches also play a major role in the soil solarization process.
5)It develops a specific micro climatic environment underside the sheet, which is higher in CO2, due to the higher level of microbial activity.
6)Under mulch, soil physicochemical property is maintained during the crop growing period.
7) Germination occurs much faster rate(2-3 days) than normal field germination.
8)Less insects,pathogens & nematodes infestation,give farmers more relief.
9) Synthetic mulches provide an insulating barrier between soil& air, maintain moderate soil temp.in summer as well as winter.
10)Silver/aluminum coating plastic films act as a repellent of insects.
A graphic diagram is given below, which shows no of Aphids & Thrips population in Okra(Vendi) vary with silver, straw & no mulch.
11) The black plastic film does not allow direct sunlight to pass through on to the soil, so photosynthesis doesn’t occur in the absence of sunlight below the black film, hence it arrests weed growth.
● Organic mulches are those, usually derived either from plant or animal organic matter or, from plant residues, stubbles, straws e.t.c.
● Live mulches are mainly the legume crops grown between the inter mulch row.
◆Different Mulching material and their purpose of use in Off-Season vegetable cultivation:~
Important parameter regarding use of Plastic mulch in Off-Season vegetable production:~
●1)Bed Preparation by giving 1.5 to 1.8 m spacing between two bed, depending upon the selection of plastic materials.
◆Now, it’s time to discuss the IMPORTANT PARAMETERs regarding use of Plastic/Synthetic mulch in “Off-season vegetable production”:~
●1)Bed preparation is done either ‘Rotavator’ or manually by giving space of (1.5-1.8 m) between two subsequent beds, depending upon the equipment used for bed making. A bed of 8-12 cm high,80-90 cm width with slopes from the center to the edge of 3 cm.
●2) Fertilizer application should be done either after bed-making before laying of mulch sheet or mix with irrigation water/ drip lines if present.
●3)Plastic mulch laying on the bed with the help of a Tractor drawn machine/manually.
i) Thickness of mulch,30-100 micron(0.30 to 1.0mm).
ii) Plastic mulch generally available in rolls of 1.2 to 1.6 m wide. And 800 to 1000m long.
iii) The mulch material should be made held tight without any crease and laid on the bed.One can hold the plastic roll by entering a pipe within it and another one pulled over the bed.
iv) Press the plastic 4-6 inches deep in the soil to keep flim in position and putting soil with a spade.
●V) Mulch material should be puncture at a required distance after laying or before laying and Seeds /seedlings of vegetables should be sown/transplanted in this hole.
●Small trench could be made around the periphery of the mulching area to facilitate anchoring of the mulch film.
●The border/margin area of mulch should be press inside the soil in about 7-10 cm/4-6 inches deep at an angle of 45°.
By Arpan South, College of Agriculture. DBRAU Agra.
About the author: Hi!!, I’m a student of B.Sc.(Ag) at College of Agriculture ND, DBRAU Agra. As a student of Agriculture, I like to share my view about the most important facts of Agriculture on the Indian Economy because without agriculture India can’t stay anyway. I always try to understand, how to improve Agricultural scenario in people’s logic !!, how to solve farmer’s suicide!!, how to manage all difficulties going on agriculture nowadays!! Besides this, I also give some focus on Science & Technology. Side by side I have some interest in Music & Art. Travel is another emotion to me