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Organic Farming ยป Mulching


Mulching is the use of organic, synthetic or inorganic materials (mulch) to cover the soil, especially around plants to keep down evaporation, reduce erosion, suppress weed growth and seed germination.

A variety of materials are used as mulch. Organic mulch like grass clipping, leaves, hay, straw, coconut shell, coconut cover, coconut pith, wood chips, composted materials are commonly used in our traditional practices. Synthetic mulch like plastic, rubber sheets are used but are costly and non-biodegradable. Natural mulch like rock powder, clay and sand also is used.

The choice of mulch and the method of application can be important to the health of the crop. Organic mulches are usually preferred due to their soil enhancing properties. If organic mulch is used, it should be well aerated and preferably composted. Organic mulches can negatively affect the plant growth when bacteria and fungi decompose them rapidly. This degradation process requires nitrogen that they remove from the surrounding soil. Some organic mulch can wick water from the soil to the surface, which can dry out of the soil. The mulches that produce the soil acidity should be avoided.

Generally recommended mulching depth is 2 to 4 inches, too much mulch can be harmful to the crop.