Plastic mulching for vegetable production

Dr Laishram Kanta Singh, Mrs K Lily Rangnamei and Dr S Roma Devi
Contd from previous issue
· The film shouldn’t be laid on during the hottest part of the day since then it will be expanded.
Selection of mulch
The ecological conditions, primary mulching factors, and secondary mulching factors all influence the choice of mulch.
· Rainy season - Perforated mulch
· Orchard and plantation - Thicker mulch
· Soil solarisation - Thin transparent film
· Weed control through solarisation - Transparent film
· Weed control in cropped land - Black film
· Sandy soil - Black film
· Saline water use - Black film
· Summer cropped land - White film
· Insect repellent - Silver colour film
· Early germination - Thinner film
Methods of mulching
· The mulching area should ideally match the plant’s canopy in size.
· Mulch film is trimmed to the necessary size from the main roll.
· Remove any debris from the area, such as weeds, stones, and pebbles.
· Before mulching, thoroughly till the soil and sprinkle a small amount of water on it.
· To make it easier for the mulch film to be anchored, a small trench could be dug around the perimeter of the mulching area.
· The end of the film should be buried in the ground and should cover the entire area around the tree.
· To allow for water passage, four semi-circular holes could be drilled into the film.
· The opening or slit should be situated parallel to the wind’s direction.
· Use to cover the film’s corners
· To hold the film in place, surround the corners with 4-6 inches of soil on all sides.
· In order to mulch hard soil, dig four 1-by-1-by-2-inch trenches and fill them with gravel or stones.
 Cover the trenches with mulch film, and semi-circular perforations in the film allow water to pass through the mulch and into the trenches.
Mulching techniques for Vegetables/close space crop
· A very thin layer of protection is use on vegetable crops with a short growing season.
· Round holes are made in the centre of the film using a punch, a pipe with a wider diameter, a hammer, or a heated pipe end.
· The mulch film is spread out along the planting row’s length, with one end (along the width) secured in the ground.
· Thoroughly till the soil and add the necessary amount of FYM and fertiliser before mulching.
· The soil is then covered with a layer of mulch film (4-6") to keep it stable.
· The drilled holes in the mulch film are used to directly plant seeds.
· Seedlings for transplanted crops could be inserted right into the hole.
· The hole-punching procedure is the same for mulching established seedlings.
The mulch film is then unrolled over the saplings after being buried at one end along its width. The saplings are held in the hand and inserted into the perforations on the mulch film from the bottom side so that it might spread to the topside during the unrolling process.
Irrigation practices under mulching
· The lateral pipelines used in drip irrigation are installed beneath the mulch film.
· If inter-cultivation is necessary, it is preferable to leave the laterals and drippers on top of the mulch film and control the water flow using a small pipe or through the holes drilled in the mulch film.
Plant growth and yield
The following examples show how plastic mulching significantly affects the production of several vegetable crops:
In light of the evolving technology landscape, plasticculture is essential to Indian agriculture in order to increase crop yields and production. Agricultural water management has undergone a revolution since linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE) as a mulch film was introduced. Actually, it is advantageous to dryland farmers. This is one of the plasticultural applications that is expanding the quickest.
 LLDPE film costs less than a third as much as LDPE mulch film. Additionally, thinner layers (15 to 20 microns) are ideal for mulching activities. However, the price of films has increased because to the rising cost of raw ingredients.
 Hence, the government needs to do everything it can to mass produce the film and sell it to the farmers for a fair price. Banks may also provide subsidies to entice farmers to embrace soil mulching.
The writers are from ICAR-Krishi Vigyan Kendra, ICAR Research Complex for NEH Region, Manipur Centre, Lamphelpat, Imphal