Mulching may be defined as the process of covering the soil surface around the plants to create congenial conditions for the crop growth.
This may include moisture and soil conservation, temperature moderation, salinity and weed control etc. It exerts a decisive effect on earliness, yield and quality of the crop.
Organic mulch materials include grain straw, fresh or old hay, fresh-cut forage or cover crops, chipped brush, wood shavings, tree leaves, cotton gin waste, rice or buckwheat hulls, and other crop residues. Hay and straw are among the most widely used organic mulches in organic horticulture. Cover crops can be grown to maturity (flowering), mechanically killed, and left on the soil surface to provide an in-situ organic mulch for no-till planting. Leaf mold (decomposed tree leaves), compost, and aged manure have also been used as organic mulches, although their crumbly texture may not provide as effective a barrier to weed seedlings as other materials.
Organic mulches suppress weeds in several ways. First, they block seed germination stimuli by intercepting light, reducing soil temperature, and greatly dampening day–night temperature fluctuations. As a result, fewer weed seeds germinate under the mulch than in uncovered soil. Second, the mulch physically hinders emergence of those weeds that do germinate. If the mulch is thick enough to prevent light from reaching the trapped seedlings, they eventually die. Third, some mulch materials, such as grain straw and fresh-cut forages like sorghum-sudangrass, release natural substances that inhibit weed seedling growth for several weeks after application, a process known as allelopathy. Finally, organic mulch can enhance crop growth and competitiveness against weeds by conserving soil moisture and moderating soil temperature.
The Pictures shown below serves as an example on the process of Mulching.
Preparing the plots ready for mulching.
Rice straws are good mulching material. It also serves as source of nutrients once decomposed.
Plastic mulches are more efficient in controlling weeds and preserving soil moisture.
Once installed, we create holes where we plant our vegetables.