Types of Mulching, advantages and Weed Control

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What is a weed?

  • In agricultural and horticultural crops grown in the field by sowing or transplanting, other useless plants growing apart from the main crop plants are called weeds. These weeds are noxious, useless plants, which are not needed in the field.
  • Agricultural activities such as sowing, intercropping, watering, and harvesting lead to weeds infestation in the field.
  • Types of Mulching, advantages and Weed Control

What is mulching?

  • Mulching means a layer of synthetic (plastic) or by-products of agricultural crops to cover open soil between two rows before or after sowing. Mulching is very popular for weed control in agriculture all over the world and different in our country too.
  • Mulching is an important weed control method in crop cultivation. Mulching reduces weed seed germination, suppresses weed growth, and conserves soil moisture and temperature to improve crop growth and yield.
  • Mulching generally forms a protective barrier around crops to benefit crop growth and productivity by modifying the soil microclimate to form a layer.
  • It also helps to improve overall plant health and growth.
Also Read…..Source of Information for Women Farmers

Types of Mulching, advantages and Weed Control

Types of Mulching, advantages and Weed Control

Why Weed Management?

  • Weeds account for the highest loss of up to 33% of crop losses due to various factors.
  • According to a survey, weed loss in the country is estimated at 50,000 crore only in cereals, pulses and oilseed crops.
  • Weeds have reduced production by about 36.5% in the Kharif crop and 7% in Rabi crop.
  • Farmers have long been aware and proactive about the prevention of pests and diseases among the factors that reduce crop production, but neglect the control of the most damaging enemy ‘weeds’.
  • Since the beginning of agriculture, the problem of weeds has been perplexing the farmers. The problem of weeds is not only a problem of farmers but it has become a problem of human society.
  • In the present scenario, weeds are a serious problem for the health of the human race apart from the farming community, for the cattle rearers, for the trading community, as an obstruction in the canals, as a challenge in the forest and as pollution in drinking water in some places in the reservoirs.
  • Eradication of weeds has been the desire of farmers for years, but this question has not received enough attention because crop damage caused by diseases and pests is clearly visible to the naked eye, while damage caused by weeds is seen indirectly as a reduction at the end of crop production.
  • Weeds are a challenging problem for today’s farmers due to a lack of timely recognition of the importance of weed control.
  • Cultivated crops have an open field around the plant and two growing areas. In addition, due to the need for more irrigation and more fertilizer, the growth of weeds is seen very quickly in such crops due to the availability of sufficient water and nutrients according to the season.
  • A forest is an excellent example to understand the importance of cover in nature. In the forest, you will see large trees, medium trees, shrubs, grasses, and ground surfaces with 5 layers or beds of dry leaves.
  • All five levels are interdependent of trees grasses in the shade, small plants in the shade of a medium tree, and medium trees in the shade of a large tree easily complete their life cycle in symbiosis with each other.
  • If they don’t have any family disputes, any debate over when to do weed management? Living without, it is a symptom of symbiosis.
  • Mono cropping with Di-cotyledons and Di-cotyledons with mono-crops and mixed cropping with mono-cropping helps in providing the crops with essential nutrients and a favorable environment.
  • Modern agriculture also uses this principle of nature to increase soil productivity by controlling weeds through mulching in agricultural and horticultural crops.
  • In general high-returning horticultural, vegetable, or spice crops, using mulches in integrated weed control can increase production by 20 to 25%.
  • Weeds compete with the main crop for moisture and nutrients from the soil, as well as atmospheric sunlight and space.
  • Weeds cause an estimated 15 to 80% loss in crop production.
  • Weeds provide shelter to pests and help them spread.
  • Reduces water carrying capacity in reservoirs and canals.
  • Weeds like carrot grass (Parthenium) cause asthma, respiratory, skin diseases in humans and reduced grazing area for animals.

Types of Mulching, advantages and Weed Control

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Types of Mulching, advantages and Weed Control

When to do weed management?

  • There are periods in every crop, when there is intense competition between crops and weeds for light, water, nutrients, and space. If weeds are not controlled during this period, the yield is reduced.
  • This period is known as the ‘CROP-WEED INTENSIVE PERIOD’. Due to industrialization, severe shortage, and uncertainty of availability of farm labor and high labor rates, it is not possible to keep the crop weed free throughout its entire life cycle.
  • Generally, ‘CROP-WEED INTENSIVE PERIOD’ is 15 to 40 days for short-duration crops and 20 to 60 days for long-duration crops. For vegetable crops, this time span is 15 to 60 days.
  • Thus it is more important to keep the crop weed free during a certain period than to keep it free throughout its life.

Types of Mulching, advantages and Weed Control

Why do weed control?

  • Weeds are the biggest hidden enemy of field crops. If this enemy is not dealt with in time, there can be a significant reduction in the production and quality of the crop. Hence this enemy of agricultural crops is controlled using intercropping, hand weeing, or other cultivation methods. Which method is to be adopted is depends on the local and prevailing situation in the area.
  • It depends on factors such as type of land, season, method of sowing crops, availability of labor and rate of labor etc.
  • Weed problems are more common in monsoon crops, but in areas where perennial irrigation facilities are available, weeds are a problem in all three seasons.
  • Mainly two methods are adopted to control weeds.
  • Methods of preventing weeds before they enter the field are known as preventive measures, while management measures taken to prevent weeds from emerging after planting are known as preventive measures.
  • Timely and judicious adoption of both these methods can lead to effective weed management at a low cost.

Types of Mulching, advantages and Weed Control

Weed management practices in agriculture

(a) Preventive Measures:

Generally, measures taken before weeds enter the area or crop are called preventive measures. Weeds are mostly spread from seeds through various vectors such as wind, water, animals and birds, and farm implements. The measures to prevent weeds are called preventive measures which are as follows

  • Use only pure seeds free from weed seeds for sowing.
  • Use of well Decomposed Farm yard Manure/organic manure
  • Avoid feeding mature weeds containing seeds to animals
  • Preventing animals from moving from weed-infested to weed-free areas
  • Clean and use agricultural implements to keep water wells and ditches free from weeds.
  • To keep the field area free from weeds in the field
  • To examine the production of trees or other parts of plants

Types of Mulching, advantages and Weed Control

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Types of Mulching, advantages and Weed Control

(b) Counter measures:

The method of removing a weed before or after its emergence after entering the area or field is called a control method which is as follows.

  • Hand weeding
  • Intercropping
  • Appropriate cropping system
  • Chemical system
  • Biological system
  • Soil solarization
  • Legal control and
  • Mulching
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Weed management by mulching in agriculture

What is mulching?

  • Mulching means a layer of synthetic (plastic) or by-products of agricultural crops to cover open soil between two rows before or after sowing. Mulching is very popular for weed control in agriculture all over the world and in different parts of our country too.
  • Mulching is an important weed control method in crop cultivation. Mulching reduces weed seed germination, suppresses weed growth, and conserves soil moisture and temperature to improve crop growth and yield.
  • Mulching generally forms a protective barrier around crops to benefit crop growth and productivity by modifying the soil microclimate. It also helps to improve overall plant health and growth.

Types of Mulching, advantages and Weed Control

Types of Mulching, advantages and Weed Control

Types of Mulching for Weed Control:

  (a) Organic Mulching:

  • Generally by-products of agricultural crops like paddy or wheat chaff/straw, dry leaves of crops like trees or sugarcane, stalk pieces of crops like cotton or castor, etc are used as organic mulch.
  • Generally organic mulch is spread on the soil immediately after sowing the crop to prevent weeds from growing in the crop and protect the crop from weeds until the desired weed-free period.
  • Also, due to organic matter, the soil moisture does not evaporate quickly and keeps the soil temperature low in summer.
  • Adding mulch to the soil after harvesting adds organic matter to the soil, which plays a very important role in increasing soil fertility.
  • Protects most of the crops from soil heat thus having a good effect on quality. In addition, soil moisture is retained for a longer period of time, reducing infestation of pests such as thrips. Thus, organic fertilizers should be used in agricultural crops as they are beneficial in many ways besides weed control.
  • This enables even small and marginal farmers to achieve effective weed control in agricultural crops.

The purposes of automatic covering by nature in agriculture are as follows:

  • Covering is formed naturally to protect seeds from birds, insects and animals.
  • A natural cover is formed to activate microorganisms and native earthworms through the microclimate.
  • Decomposing the roots of the crop by favorable conditions to prepare the humus in the soil to produce a new crop in the future.
  • Conserving moisture in the soil by preventing it from escaping from the soil 10 cm of natural cover soil.
  • Accumulated humus in the upper surface protects soil particles and soil microorganisms from cold in winter, heavy raindrops in monsoon, and intense heat waves of sunlight in summer.

Types of Mulching, advantages and Weed Control

Types of Mulching, advantages and Weed Control

(b)Synthetic Mulching:

  • Black-colored plastic is widely used as a synthetic mulching. Black-colored plastic is spread on the prepared land before planting or sowing the crop.
  • According to the distance of sowing, holes are drilled on it beforehand or seeds are sown or transplanted after drilling holes.
  • Applying liquid organic fertilizers using drip irrigation under plastic covers has two benefits.
  • Plastic mulch can be easily applied over large areas with the help of tractor-driven mechanical equipment.
  • Weeds growing in place of manholes and weeds growing between two rows of crops can be easily removed by hand weeding or intercropping.
  • According to National Organic Program (NOP Rules, USDA, 2000) rules, this plastic mulch should be removed from the field after the crop is harvested.
  • In terms of cost, using black plastic is affordable. Its use in high-yielding crops can effectively control weeds and achieve higher-quality production and income.
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Types of Plastic Mulching:

  • Photo-degradable plastic mulch: This type of plastic mulching is destroyed by sunlight in a short period of time.
  • Bio-degradable plastic mulch: This type of plastic mulching easily decomposes automatically over time in the soil.

Color of plastic

The soil environment can be managed by the proper selection of the specific type, color, and thickness of the plastic cover. It is available in different colors like black, transparent, white, silvery, blue, red, etc. But the choice of the color of the plastic cover depends on the specific goals. Generally, plastic covers are used in crops as mentioned below.

  • Black-colored plastics: These types of plastics help in soil moisture conservation, weed control, and reduction of reflected ultraviolet rays.
  • Silver-colored plastics: They generally keep the soil cool and maintain the temperature of the root zone.
  • Transparent plastic: This plastic can increases the soil temperature, which is used for solarization of land/soil.

Types of Mulching, advantages and Weed Control

Types of Mulching, advantages and Weed Control

The thickness of Plastic:

  • The thickness of the plastic used in mulching is determined based on the type of crop and the ripening period.

(c) Soil Mulch:

  • Soil mulch means the soil itself acts as a soil cover. Soil mulch serves three main purposes.
  • Increase soil aeration,
  • Prevent rainwater runoff, store it in the soil and
  • Weeds control
  • It prevents erosion of the topsoil and provides essential oxygen for crop roots and soil microorganisms to prevent weeds from competing with crops for moisture and sunlight.
  • 10 to 15 cm above the ground the soil is mulched by plowing in layers. Sometimes the topsoil after plowing and sowing seeds in moisture should act as a soil conditioner so that the moisture in the lower layer does not evaporate.
  • Intercropping any row crop sown in a row increases soil aeration, prevents moisture loss, and controls weeds.

Types of Mulching, advantages and Weed Control

Types of Mulching, advantages and Weed Control

(d) Live Mulching:

  • Live mulching means intercropping and mixed cropping, which provides symbiosis with the main host crop.
  • All plants are a complete family and each member plant depends on other plants.
  • Intercropping and mixed cropping systems are beneficial as living cover. Because these two types of crops should generally be selected as intercrops and intercropping with cereals and pulses in such a way that there is minimal interference between them and hindrance to the growth of weeds.
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Benefits of Mulching:

  • Mulching does not provide enough light to the weed seeds, so many weed seeds do not germinate despite all the convenience.
  • Also many weed seeds will only germinate if there is a large fluctuation in temperature e.g. Gadder and dogwood that do not grow from sheathing.
  • Weed seeds like kanjara germinate only if there is a favorable temperature in summer which is not possible because of the covering. Thus, mulching can be effectively used in integrated weed management.
  • Mulching prevents sunlight and sun rays from penetrating the soil surface and prevents loss of water through evaporation.
  • Mulching prevents erosion of topsoil during rainfall and helps in binding soil particles to plant roots.
  • Mulching significantly reduces the variation in day and night temperature in the root zone of the crop.
  • Soil-borne diseases can be easily prevented if soil solarization is done with transparent plastic and moisture and heat generated during solarization kill harmful pathogens
  • All types of plastics are effective for weed control. In general, black plastic has proven more effective than other colored plastics for weed control.
  • Application of organic (crop residue) manure also increases soil fertility, as well as increases the activity of beneficial micro-organisms in the soil. Hence organic fertilizers should be used in agriculture as far as possible.

Types of Mulching, advantages and Weed Control

Types of Mulching, advantages and Weed Control

Summary:

Weed management is a crucial aspect of agricultural and horticultural crops, as it helps prevent weeds from causing crop losses and improve plant health and growth. Weeds account for up to 33% of crop losses, with an estimated loss of Rs. 50,000 crore in India alone in cereals, pulses, and oilseed crops.

They can cause asthma, respiratory, skin diseases, and reduced grazing area for animals. Modern agriculture uses the principle of nature to increase soil productivity by controlling weeds through mulching in agricultural and horticultural crops. Mulching can increase production by 20 to 25% in high-returning horticultural, vegetable, or spice crops. Weeds compete with the main crop for moisture, nutrients, and space, causing an estimated 15 to 80% loss in crop production.

There are two main methods for weed management: Preventive measures, which prevent weeds before they enter the field, and Countermeasures, which remove weeds before or after their emergence after entering the area or field.

Preventive measures involve using only pure seeds free from weed seeds for sowing, using well-decomposed farm yard manure/organic manure, avoiding feeding mature weeds containing seeds to animals, cleaning agricultural implements, keeping the field area free from weeds, and examining the production of trees or other plants.

Mulching is a popular weed control method in agriculture, reducing weed seed germination, suppressing weed growth, and conserving soil moisture and temperature. There are various types of mulching, including organic mulch, synthetic mulch, and soil mulch.

Organic mulch is made from by-products of agricultural crops, while synthetic mulch is made from black-colored plastic. Soil mulch serves three main purposes: increasing soil aeration, preventing rainwater runoff, and weed control.

Intercropping rows of crops increases soil aeration, prevents moisture loss, and controls weeds. Mulching is effective in integrated weed management, as it does not provide enough light to weed seeds and can only germinate if there is a large fluctuation in temperature. Organic fertilizers should be used as often as possible to maximize the benefits of mulching in agriculture.

Types of Mulching, advantages and Weed Control

Types of Mulching, advantages and Weed Control

FAQs

1. What is mulching?

Mulching means a layer of synthetic (plastic) or by-products of agricultural crops to cover open soil between two rows before or after sowing. Mulching is very popular for weed control in agriculture all over the world and in different parts of our country too. Mulching is an important weed control method in crop cultivation. Mulching reduces weed seed germination, suppresses weed growth, and conserves soil moisture and temperature to improve crop growth and yield. Mulching generally forms a protective barrier around crops to benefit crop growth and productivity by modifying the soil microclimate. It also helps to improve overall plant health and growth.

2. What is weed?

In agricultural and horticultural crops grown in the field by sowing or transplanting, other useless plants growing apart from the main crop plants are called weeds. These weeds are noxious, useless plants, which are not needed in the field. Agricultural activities such as sowing, intercropping, watering, and harvesting lead to weeds infestation in the field.

3. What are the different weed management practices in agriculture?

Preventive measures and Counter measures

4. What are the different types of Mulching for Weed Control?

(a) Organic Mulching (b) Synthetic Mulching (c) Soil Mulch (d) Live mulch

5. What are the different advantages of Mulching in soil?

•Mulching does not provide enough light to the weed seeds, so many weed seeds do not germinate despite all the convenience. •Many weed seeds will only germinate if there is a large fluctuation in temperature e.g. Gadder and dogwood that do not grow from sheathing. •Weed seeds like kanjara germinate only if there is a favorable temperature in summer which is not possible because of the covering. Thus, mulching can be effectively used in integrated weed management. •Mulching prevents sunlight and sun rays from penetrating the soil surface and prevents loss of water through evaporation. •Mulching prevents erosion of topsoil during rainfall and helps in binding soil particles to plant roots. •Mulching significantly reduces the variation in day and night temperature in the root zone of the crop.

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