Plastic mulches has tremendous effects on the growth and yield of crops. Black plastic showed superior performance among the plastic mulches. Black plastic mulch suppresses the weed growth and thereby, increase the fruit yield. Plastic mulches reduce the amount of water lost from the soil due to evaporation. This means less water will be needed for irrigation. They also aid in evenly distributing moisture to the soil which reduces plant stress.
Drip irrigation is recommended for use with plastic mulches although other types can be used successfully. The frequency of irrigation will depend on soil type and stage of crop growth. The use of drip irrigation in conjunction with plastic mulch allows one to reduce leaching of Fertilizers.
How to use plastic mulch with drip irrigation
- The first step is to buy plastic mulch from a credible dealer such as Mazero Agrifood Ltd.
- Make good plant beds or ridges so that the plastic mulch and drip tapes can be installed on them.
- Install drip irrigation on the beds. Drip irrigation is best used with plastic mulch when the drip tapes are placed under the plastic mulch. This will ensure that the plants get sufficient water. You must ensure that you check the drip emitters always to know that they are emitting water well.
- Lay the plastic mulch. After you have installed the drip irrigation, you can then lay the plastic mulch on the drip irrigation tapes.
Importance of using plastic mulch with drip irrigation
Reduction in the Leaching of Fertilizer
The use of drip irrigation in conjunction with plastic mulch allows one to reduce leaching of fertilizers. Drip irrigation eliminates the use of flood and furrow irrigation that applies large quantities of water to the soil which in turn tends to leach nitrogen and other nutrients to depths below the root zone. Drip irrigation applies lower amounts of water with fertilizers injected and thus these fertilizers are applied to the root zone as needed. This also reduces the amount of fertilizer needed for adequate plant growth when compared to broadcast fertilization.
Plastic mulches prevent sunlight from reaching the soil which can inhibit most annual and perennial weeds. Clear plastics prevent weed growth. Holes in the mulch for plants tend to be the only pathway for weeds to grow. Use of drip irrigation can also reduce the growth of weeds substantially because it delivers water directly to the plants root zone.
Soil Moisture Retention
Plastic mulches reduce the amount of water lost from the soil due to evaporation. This means less water will be needed for irrigation and that’s why drip irrigation is preferred. Plastic mulches also aid in evenly distributing moisture to the soil which reduces plant stress. Plastic mulching film creates a barrier of photosynthesis and prevents the rise of other plants.
The use of plastic mulch alters soil temperature. Dark mulches and clear mulches applied to the soil intercept sunlight warming the soil allowing earlier planting as well as encouraging faster growth early in the growing season. White mulch reflects heat from the sun effectively reducing soil temperature. This reduction in temperature may help establish plants in mid-summer when cooler soil might be required.
Improved Crop Quality
Drip irrigation is very reliable in production of quality crops. Plastic mulches on the other hand keep ripening fruits off of the soil. This reduced contact with the soil decreases fruit rot as well as keeps the fruit and vegetables clean. This is beneficial for the production of strawberries.
Reduction in Soil Compaction
The plastic mulch covering the soil decreases the crusting effect of rain and sunlight. The reduction in weed quantity means a decreased need for mechanical cultivation. Weed control between beds of plastic can be done using directly applied herbicides and through mechanical means. The soil underneath the plastic mulch stays loose and well aerated. This increases the amount of oxygen in the soil and aids in microbial activity.
Reduction in Root Damage
The use of plastic mulch creates a practically weed free area around the plant, removing the need for cultivation except between the rows of plastic. Root damage associated with cultivation is therefore eliminated. Due to these factors, the use of plastic mulch can lead to an improvement in the overall growth of the plant. Also the use of drip irrigation is very beneficial because it prevents soil erosion there by bringing about healthy roots.
While plastic mulching certainly has its benefits, it’s important to dispose of the mulching material properly to reduce its effects on the environment. The fact is, the use of plastic films as mulch material raises environmental concerns because plastic is a type of petroleum product. Apart from utilizing a lot of energy to make plastic materials, these are difficult to recycle too.
For any inquiries on plastic mulching and drip irrigation, contact Mazero Agrifood Ltd on 0729777711 for more information.