Plastic Mulches and more by Grundle API
Plastic Mulches have has been in use since the mid-1950s and have proven their worth over the years with multiple benefits. In South Africa, the most commonly used mulching plastic has been Black film due to the cost-effectiveness of this product.
Mulching Plastic is used in the open field and undercover production of crops.
The benefits of plastic mulches:
Muskmelons, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, squash, eggplant, watermelons, pineapples, strawberries are a few of the crops that have shown significant increases in earliness, yield, and fruit quality when grown on plastic mulch. Some less valuable crops such as sweet corn, snap beans, peas, and pumpkins have shown similar responses.
Weed control is one of the favourite benefits of black mulch, this is achieved by blocking out any sunlight and in this manner prevent weeds from growing on the beds around the plants which reduces labour and herbicide costs. Crops also don’t have to compete with weeds for water nutrients that you apply. Root pruning is avoided by cultivation not being needed to remove weeds. Some wedding might still be needed around the base of the plants where weeds might germinate. Avoid making the planting holes bigger than needed between 40mm and 100mm is usually sufficient.
The mulching plastic also acts as a vapour barrier reducing evaporation which means that water can now be applied more efficiently via drip irrigation. Rainwater will also run off the beds to the walkways instead of overwatering your crop giving you more control over moisture levels around the roots of your crops.
Fertilizers leaching will also be reduced during the rainy season maximizing the crops utilization of the fertilizers applied.
Mulching plastic is also practically impervious to Carbon dioxide, CO2 that builds up underneath the film will then escapes through the plant holes and creates a chimney effect resulting in increased growth due to the CO2 being abundantly available for actively growing leaves
The soil temperature is also increased by using black/clear and IRT plastic mulches resulting in earlier crops whereas Black and White mulch installed with the white side to the outside is used to delay the season and to reduce crop stress in warmer areas.
Compaction on the bed is also reduced with soil remaining lose and well-aerated underneath the plastic leading to better root growth and root accessibility to adequate oxygen and microbial activity. The mulch also protects the soil from the crusting effect of sunburn and rain.
Labourers are also more observant on where they walk and step-less on the beds which also reduce the amount of compaction.
The Mulching film also serves as a barrier between the soil and the fruit, resulting in cleaner fruit and fewer rots due to the reduction of soil splashing onto fruit. This, in turn, leads to an increase in the amount of higher quality fruits being available for the market.
All of this adds up to higher yields and better fruit quality.
Mulch plastic is also 100% recyclable once the season is done.
Bi-color Mulch variations have become popular between the specialized growers where combination colours have proven to provide a variety of benefits from earlier production to repelling certain vector insects and reducing disease pressure. These colours combinations are crop-specific.
GunMulch Black and White is also used under soft citrus to increase root development and tree growth. The main benefit comes with the increasing control over water application. By reducing the amount of rainwater seeping into the top of the ridges, it is expected that the sugar levels of the fruit could be improved. This will, in turn, increase the amount of fruit fit for export.
Using mulching plastic is more labour intensive in the beginning but once systems and techniques are mastered, the benefits outweigh the disadvantages by far.
Other product lines from Gundle API:
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