Mulching, its advantages and how it is practiced
Among all the agronomic techniques that most respect the soil and the ecosystem, mulching plays a fundamental role. What is mulching exactly? Mulching is an operation carried out that is practiced in agriculture especially in horticulture but that can also be practiced in fruit growing and other crops.
The mulching technique consists in covering the ground with a layer of material with the following objectives: to prevent the growth of weeds, to maintain the humidity in the soil, to protect the soil from erosion and by the action of pouring rain, to avoid the formation of so-called superficial crust, decrease the compaction, maintain the structure and mitigate the temperature of the soil.
At the same time, mulching protects mainly the basal part of plants from adverse biotic conditions (fauna and microfauna terricolous) and abiotic. The mulching technique can be performed with various materials, which can also be used in combination with each other; ranging from organic materials (herbaceous or woody, often obtained from the shredding of crop residues), to inert ones, to get to the use of special mulching sheets in synthetic or bioplastic films or natural fibers.
We absolutely propose the use of materials of organic origin because the use of synthetic materials, even if they could perform the same functions, entail a greater ecological footprint for the production costs, with materials often of petrochemical origin, transport, biodegradability, etc. Among the materials of organic origin we recall above all: straw but also dry leaves, mowing grass, shredded pine bark, mulch, sawdust (from untreated woods), and others that from time to time can be found in particular crop and business situations.
In short, the mulching technique mimics what happens naturally in the woods where the dry leaves accumulate on the ground at the foot of the tree, forming the litter, limiting the growth of other vegetation. The effect is due to both a physical inhibition (impediment to the penetration of sunlight, lack of space for the development of weeds) and biochemical actions (release of bio-inhibitory substances that intoxicate the seeds and propagation parts of weeds). This technique allows to maintain, at the level of the superficial roots, a higher temperature in the cold months, while the need for watering during the hot months decreases. Mulching is a widely used methodology in sustainable agronomic practices such as permaculture, natural agriculture and biodynamic agriculture.
Obviously to be able to operate a good mulch you have to obtain the necessary materials, or finding them or, better still, organizing some productions that will provide the necessary material to carry out the mulching. The latter solution is the most ecologically sound solution because it applies the concept of supplying the necessary materials to the company directly from company productions. In this way we do not affect the greenhouse gas missions for the long transport of the factors of production.