Friday, October 14, 2022

Mulching paper

Mulching paper is an opaque sheet of polythene used in covering plant root zone to prevent evaporation of irrigation water and weed sprouting in crops.
Agricultural water resources have been limited over the years due to global warming and irregular rainfall in the arid and semi-arid regions due to changes in weather patterns. 
To mitigate the water stress in agriculture, the mulching paper has played a crucial role as a water-saving technique in rain-fed plant cultivation. It is important mainly for preserving soil moisture, regulating soil temperature, reducing the spread of soil-borne diseases, reducing weed growth and minimising soil erosion, which ultimately affects the output yield. 
Agriculture is the largest consumer of water in the world which accounts for 70% of total use. Considering the growing water shortage due to global warming and irregular rainfall patterns, proper management of water used for agricultural purposes has become a major priority concern.
 Mulching has become a popular practice in modern agriculture. Mulching paper covers the soil surface around the plants with polythene sheets which artificially creates favourable conditions for plant growth leading to an increase in crop yield. 
It insulates soil to protect organisms and plant roots from different meteorological conditions.
Mulching helps to improve crop growth as well as yield, and at the same time, it optimizes water use. There are two types of mulches: organic or biodegradable and inorganic mulch. 
Organic mulch is made from biodegradable materials such as grass, straw, dry leaves, sawdust and paper mulch, which are made from compressing moist wooden fibres that are then dried to form sheets of paper. 
Inorganic mulch is made from industrially processed plastic-based materials which are mostly recycled. They are black or transparent in colour. Although it is still contradictory as to which one is best in agriculture; research is still going on. In splash rainfall areas, the mulching paper has been designed to harvest rainwater and assist in controlling soil erosion.
 In drip irrigation, mulching paper can be laid simultaneously with the drip pipe using a mulching machine which reduces labour costs and time.
Mulching prevents water loss from the soil through evaporation during hot weather which improves soil structure due to an increase in microbial activities in the soil.  
Plastic mulch acts as impervious to the gaseous flow which is a superior barrier for fumigants and the solarization process. 
The mulching paper also plays a critical role in pest and disease control, enabling the plant to optimally utilize soil nutrients and reduce fertilizer leaching. 
Organic mulch decays over time and adds nutrients to the soil as it breaks down. This increases long-term nutrient availability in the soil.
Mulch can be used in fields before and after plantation as well as around the young plants. 
It is especially useful for high-value vegetable crops, crops in dry areas, during the dry seasons and in places where the soil is easily eroded by heavy rains. 
The use of plastic film mulch in agriculture is generally recommended because of being has has has has lightweight easy of handling and has better coverage compared to organic mulch. Mulching materials vary with the type of plants, climatic environments and type of soil. 
Black mulching paper is commonly used because of its low price and proven positive results in production. 
Mulching has become an important water conservation practice in modern agriculture in arid and semi-arid environments. 
The mulch material protects the soil surface from direct sunlight which reduces evaporation by preserving soil water and altering soil temperature. Optimum utilization of water within the soil root zone is a crucial phenomenon to increase efficient water use and save water resources by mulching.
 Moreover, mulching is not only a water-saving technique but is also responsible for the beautification of farmlands. 
The selection of mulch materials largely depends on the availability of material, climate, durability, and cost-effectiveness. 
It also needs to be environmentally viable for sustainable use. Therefore, it is concluded that the various mulching material uses can save water resources in agriculture which leads to improving crop yield in rain-fed cultivation


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