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2022 | Buch

Mulching in Agroecosystems

Plants, Soil & Environment

herausgegeben von: Kashif Akhtar, Muhammad Arif, Muhammad Riaz, Haiyan Wang

Verlag: Springer Nature Singapore


Über dieses Buch

This book provides insights into recent developments in the use of mulching in agroecosystems with emphasis on the major pros and cons. Increase in human population, climatic changes and agricultural intensification have put enormous pressure on soil and water resources. As a result, we are confronted with challenges to enhance nutrient and water use efficiencies and conserve soil organic matter without compromising crop yields and food security. Increasing the soil organic matter (SOM) via residue return increased nutrient availability and soil physical and biological properties. Management practices, such as straw mulching or incorporation, have significant effects on soil health. Straw addition also increases functionality related to carbon and N metabolism via increasing the microbes and thus greatly contributes to CO2 and N2O emissions. However, the co-use of organic and inorganic fertilizer reduces the N2O emission without compromising crop yield. Mulching has long been advocated to conserve soil moisture and increase the efficiency of macro- and micro-nutrients by improving soil physical, chemical, and biological properties. These effects of mulch are translated into better crop yields while improving soil health and quality in the long run. Therefore, the use of mulching techniques is on the rise in organic as well as conventional agriculture. The book is of great interest for researchers, academics, agriculture extensionists, soil and plant scientist, fertilizer industry, farmers, agro-industrial workers, farm managers, NGOs, and climate and civil society activists.



Soil Section

Effect of Mulches on Mineral Fertilizer (N, P & K) Management and Fertilizer Use Efficiency
Global crop productions are limited due to limited water and nutrient availability. To enhance the availability of nutrients different fertilizers are applied to the soil. But due to extreme temperatures or irregularity in the moisture levels, the efficiency of these fertilizers become reduced. Soil mulching (organic or inorganic) reduces evaporation, control soil temperature and enhances nutrient use efficiency, thereby affects crop yield and production. This chapter highlighted different aspects of mulching including, ways mineral fertilizer loss, strategies to manage mineral fertilizer and fertilizer use efficiency. Additionally, this chapter highlighted the effect of mulch material on mineral fertilizer (N, P & K) management and fertilizer use efficiency. Ways of improving fertilizer use efficiency for some important fertilizers are also discussed in detail.
Amir Aziz, Noor-us-Saba, Mukkram Ali Tahir, Qura-Tul-Ain, Adeel Ahmad, Ameer Hamza, Humaira Ramzan, Bilal Ahmad Khan
Effects of Mulching on Soil Biota and Biological Indicators of Soil Quality
The concept of soil health has gained importance recently, recognizing the soil as a living entity. In the recent scenario of urbanization and excessive land use, agricultural land is subjected to degradation and desertification. For sustainable agriculture production and ecological interactions, there is a dire need for management strategies to improve soil health and quality. Mulching is among the important conservation strategies to enhance soil health by improving soil biota, organic contents, and soil aggregation. In this chapter, we encompassed the different categories of living entities dwelling in soil and their key activities to enhance ecological relations of soil. Based on the literature study, mulches are proved to be very efficient in improving soil biota, soil moisture retention, maintaining the soil temperature, nutrient dynamics, decrease in severity of soil contaminants, suppression of weeds, and control in insects pests. The addition of mulch in the soil fluctuate a number of indicators of soil biota, which account for soil health. Species diversity, microbial biomass, soil respiration, organic content, and enzymatic respiration mainly determine quality status of soil biota, which are influenced by mulches. We have also given the overview of indices of species diversity, i.e., richness, evenness, and phylogenetic indices altered by the introduction of mulches in soil and thus modify the ratio of pests predators. Moreover, based on field conditions, crop and mulch type, and environment-specific application of mulch can become more productive for soil conservation, plant growth and soil biota.
Noor-ul-Ain, Ali Aslam, Fasih Ullah Haider
Mulches Effects on Soil Physical Properties i.e. Porosity, Aggregate Stability, Infiltration Rates, Bulk Density, Compaction
Mulch is separating the soil surface from the atmosphere and is consider a layer of dissimilar material. A layer of mulch on the soil surface can affect different soil physical properties, for example enhancing the soil aggregation, reducing water evaporation, increasing infiltration rate and reducing runoff losses. Mulching can be organic and inorganic where organic materials have a positive impact on bulk density, one of the reasons for increased soil bioturbation from earthworm activity. Other positive effects of organic mulching can be improved structural stability and porosity. In this chapter the results of a range of studies concerning the effects of mulching on the physical soil parameters i.e. porosity, pore volume, void ratio, aggregate stability, infiltration, interception and evaporation, bulk density and penetration resistance are discussed.
Rafia Mubaraka, Muhammad Baqir Hussain, Hira Tariq, Marina Qayyum, Iqra Tariq
Mulching is an Approach for a Significant Decrease in Soil Erosion
Among the applied soil insurance rehearses, mulch has been effectively applied to decrease soil and water misfortune in different conditions, for example, agrarian land, fire-stricken regions, prairies and human sites. In these unique circumstances, a difficult issue is soil erosion from water, particularly in semi-sticky and semi-bone-dry areas of the world. While the valuable impacts of mulch are known, more exploration is expected to evaluate them, particularly in regions where soil erosion from water is a serious threat. There are still a few vulnerabilities in the literature regarding how to boost the adequacy of mulching to lessen the pace of soil and water misfortune. Given the seriousness of soil erosion from water and the vulnerabilities actually connected with the right utilization of mulch, the evaluation of this study aims to (Adekalu et al., 2007) grow a complete and recorded data set on the utilization of mulch with vegetative deposits; (Albaladejo Montoro et al., 2000) evaluate the impacts of mulch on soil and water misfortune dependent on various estimation techniques and consequently unique spatial scales; (Arnáez et al., 2015) survey the impacts of various kinds of cover on soil and water misfortunes dependent on various estimation strategies; and (Badia & Marti, 2000) make ideas for more feasible soil the board. Information have been gathered and distributed in the literature. The outcomes showed the gainful impacts of mulching in the battle against soil disintegration by water in all media considered here, with a decrease in mean residue fixation, soil misfortune and soil volume and overflow that at times added up to over 90%. Be that as it may, the monetary achievability of mulching was not accessible in the literature. Thusly, more exploration should be done to help ranchers and land directors the same by furnishing them with proof based assets to carry out more supportable soil the executives rehearses.
Marwa Tariq, Kashif Akhtar
Response of Mulching and Tillage Practices on Soil Management
The increase in global population increases the demand in food production, and to satisfy food demand, researcher must increase the cultivated area and or decrease the inorganic fertilizer usage to control over environmental pollution. Effective management practices i.e., reduced or zero-tillage system, the addition of crop residue, crop rotation, and optimum nutrients application enhances the soil properties and promotes agricultural sustainability. In this current chapter, we critically reviewed the effects of mulching and tillage practices on physiological and chemical characteristics i.e., aggregate stability, soil erosion, organic matter content, nutrients availability, and microbial biomass of the soil. It was observed that integrated application of mulches with tillage practices results to improve soil temperature, soil erosion risk, bulk density, and porosity, infiltration rate, soil organic carbon, microbial biomass, nutrients availability, and moisture content of soil which result to improve weed infestation, root morphology, and crop production on sustainable basis. The current chapter can aid in determining the ecological significance of mulches and tillage systems on sustainable basis not only to overcome environmental degradation problems but also improving agricultural soils health on sustainable basis.
Fasih Ullah Haider, Maqsood Ul Hussan, Kashif Akhtar, Cai Liqun
Response of Mulching on Soil Physical and Biochemical Properties and Functions
The covering of soil surface, for creating suitable conditions for the growth of plants, either by organic or inorganic material is termed mulching. Mulching is found effective in soil and water conservation, weeds and salinity control, temperature moderation, reducing the cost of fertilizer and creating a suitable soil microenvironment for better crop growth and yield. This chapter highlighted different aspects of mulching including their types and nature. Secondly, the effect of mulching on the physical, biological and physicochemical properties of soil are considered parameters for determining the health of the soil. Thirdly, the impact of mulching on environmental conditions is also highlighted. This discussion made a skeleton for measuring the quality and health improvement of soil by mulching.
Adeel Ahmad, Muhammad Yaseen, Imtiaz Ahmed, Bushra Niamat, Aqarab Husnain Gondal, Amir Aziz, Muhammad Irfan, Muhammad Faizan Ilyas, Muhammad Jafir

Plant Section

Mechanistic Insights into Mulching and Plant Physiological Attributes Under Abiotic Stresses
Drought, salinity, temperature extremes, and heavy metals are the major environmental factors that limit sustainable crop production worldwide and consequently restrict crop yield. There is a dire need for environment-friendly agricultural practices to achieve long-term food production for the growing population. Mulching has become a common method in modern agricultural practices because of its numerous benefits, such as moisture conservation, augmentation temperature of the soil, reduction of insect pests, weed management, escalation of crop yield, and the effective use of nutrients present in the soil, as well as decreased soil salinity. Mulching also enhances plants’ resistance to pests and diseases and various stress factors like heat, salinity, drought, metals, and high or low temperatures. In addition to this, mulches could also provide economic, aesthetic, and other ecological benefits to agriculture. Mulching markedly increased the growth, yield, nutrient use, and water use efficiency in crop plants under stressed and non-stressed conditions. As a result, future research could also focus on economic, environment-friendly, and, more importantly, biodegradable materials on plant growth, balanced nutrition, yield, and quality under various abiotic stress conditions. This chapter focuses on the many essential aspects of mulches on the productivity and establishment of multiple crops under stressful environments.
Naheeda Begum, Rana Roy, Hafeez Ur Rahim, Fangguo Chang, Tuanjie Zhao
Living Mulches for Sustainable Pest Management
The need for non-chemical insect pest management is the demand of present-day lifestyle emphasized by the demand for organic food production and environmental degradation caused by synthetic insect control measures. Mulches are a well-known environmental diversification technique that has been used in agriculture for decades. They have become commonplace in cultivating a wide range of crops worldwide, gaining significance in organic systems as a sustainable management strategy for controlling weeds and pests and providing other ecological benefits. Mulches can also improve the soil's structure, porosity, and fertility, making it more suppressive and difficult for insect pests to survive. Mulches come in various shapes and compositions, including organic, non-organic, alive, synthetic, dead, biodegradable, and non-biodegradable mulches. In this chapter, we discussed the potential for using live mulches in biological pest management. Moreover, we discussed the problems caused by living mulches, such as insect pest infestation, weed infestation, disease transmission, and bird infestations.
Hina Gul, Arzlan Abbas, Farman Ullah, Nicolas Desneux, Kaleem Tariq, Asad Ali, Xiaoxia Liu
Effects of Mulching Practices on the Management of Weeds
Application of mulches is effective in reducing soil erosion through air and water, in retaining the soil moisture content, and also in suppressing the weed growth, which ultimately altogether improve the soil health. In the tropical production systems, the crop yields are drastically declined by the weed competition which has severely affected the small land holding farmers who cannot afford to purchase herbicides and other yield improving chemicals. Thus, the mulching practice of leaving the crop residues in the field after crop harvest can be a solid tool to suppress weeds, especially in the conservation agriculture systems. As a result, the weed emergence and biomass are reduced by the increased amount of the post-harvest crop residue. More than 10,000 tons ha−1 residue is required to effectively manage reduce the weed emergence and biomass together, as compared with the treatment of the bare soil having no crop residues. There are several physical methods used for suppression of weeds in cultivation. However, here the main focus is on the application of numerous mulches for the purpose of weed management and soil fertility. Mulches are a strong too for weed management in organic farming. Either the biodegradable mulching materials are used or various mulch films are utilized in the process of mulching. Ideally the organic mulches can be conveniently collected from the surrounding nature, which becomes a cheaper source of crop production. Also, the use of biodegradable mulches has a positive effect on environment unlike the chemical weed control measures. Generally, the physical weed control methods may result both in the positive or negative effect on the growth and yield of herbs and vegetables; however the target of weed suppression can be easily achieved which indirectly ends with a desirable production i.e. when weeds are suppressed the available soil resources will be utilized by the crop plants. Yes, if these mulches are used as ‘living mulches’ in crop production, then the living mulches do compete with the main crop for essential resources available in the soil. Apart from the weeds, the living cover crop (used as mulch) also affects the main crop at the same time. Consequently, a significant heed must be given during the selection of the most suitable ‘living mulch’ with the aim to achieve effective weed suppression in a crop production strategy. Various scientists have well described their experiences with a variety of biodegradable mulches including chopped newspapers, straw, photodegradable and biodegradable films, compost and gravel etc., but this special attention is given only to the to the use of mulches in medicinal plants cultivation. Therefore, the use of physical methods (mulches in our case) for weed control in the agronomic crops should also be made effective as in the medicinal plants cultivation. Nowadays, there is a steady increase in the human and livestock populations, while reciprocally the per capita arable land is declining with the passage of time. The farmers since long have been utilizing numerous methods to meet the requirements of the demand for enhancement in the production of the food crops. Worldwide, the infesting weeds are the key challenge in getting the desirable production of a crop. Among the major weeds in the crop production, about 10 weeds are there which grow in almost every crop and severely influence the target yields of these crops. The list of these problematic weeds comprises of Cannabis sativa, Chenopodium spp., Medicago lupulina, Taraxacum officinale, Cirsium arvense, Stellaria meidia, Cynodon dactylon, thistles, grasses, etc. The mulch material physically suppresses the growth of emerging weeds because the soil surface is covered and the growing weeds are shadowed due to which they fail to get suitable conducive environment to compete with the target crop. Mulching is eco-friendly, safe, feasible, less expensive and has shown fruitful results, when compared with other weed management techniques. Mulching also helps in early maturity of the main crop plants which ultimately enhances the crop yields. However, it is a pre-requisite for using the mulching process to have the prior knowledge of the site of cultivation of the crop.
Zahid Hussain, Luqman
Agronomic and Economic Valuation of Mulches
A good soil health ensures more, healthy, environment friendly and economical crop production. Weeds cause serious loss of crop yields and economic return by competing with the plants for space, nutrients, and water. Crops cultivated with more line to line and plant to plant spaces can get more benefit from mulching and hence mulching can add more to the economic return. It is because of the reason that large bare soil surface in between crop plants evaporates more water and gives more space to weed germination and growth. Moreover, mulches boost up economic return by reducing the cost of multiple herbicide and insecticide sprays, and by eliminating competition of weeds with crop plants. Further, high value crops like potato, tomato and pea etc. give more economic return on mulch application because per unit increase in economic yield is more valuable. On the other hand low value crops like coriander, toria etc. cannot afford mulching cost and ultimately result in low benefit to cost ratio in comparison to un-mulched crop.
Rashid Mahmood, Sajid Farooq, Aqib Hameed, Muhammad Riaz
Mulching and Nutrients Use Efficiencies in Plant
Rapid urbanization and industrialization have resulted in an increased global temperature over the year. Consequently, the agro-ecological system disturbing worldwide. Therefore, new agricultural practices that are eco-friendly are needed. Mulching could potentially serve the purpose by conserving moisture, reducing weed growth, reducing soil evaporation, improving microbial activities and controlling soil temperature. Additionally, mulches could provide environmental and economical advantages to agriculture and landscape and enhance the nutrient status in soil. This review chapter focuses on multiple significant impacts of mulches on nutrient use efficiencies in the plant. Secondly, discuss problems regarding nutrients use efficiencies and loss of nutrient from soil system and also discussed strategies to improving nutrient use efficiencies. This discussion leads to improve the nutrients use efficiencies in the plant by mulching.
Mukkram Ali Tahir, Noor-us-Saba, Amir Aziz, Adeel Ahmad
Mulching and Micronutrient Synergisms for Sustainable Crop Production
Soil is progressively being recognized as a natural resource which is nonrenewable that should be closely handled to guarantee long-term growth. Population growth is projected to be natural over the next 50 years, with intense competition for water and supplements to meet the increasing demand for food While soil quality is critical for long-term growth, the structure must also conserve property, sustain the climate, and be socio-culturally, economically, and environmentally beneficial. Mulch is said to have come from the German term molsch. This simply translated as “fragile to decay,” and it led to landscapers’ use of paint and leaves as mulch when strewn around the ground Mulching was a popular horticultural practice, and many nitrogen manures were used to grow crops Organic mulches are sometimes used in efforts to increase soil health. Nitrogen fertilization will significantly boost soil productivity and crop yields. On the other side, excessive nitrogen fertilizer usage will jeopardize the efficiency of nitrogen use (NUE) and the climate. Improving NUE in field management was a critical priority for more efficient usage of useful N fertilizers. Organic mulching products are more environmentally friendly and cost less than inorganic mulches. Which change soil content in order to improve NUE and crop yield more effectively. Precision nitrogen fertilizer control on plantations, as well as the cultivation of plants with strong NUE and output, would be quite feasible in the future. Supplement accessibility is improved by mulching with seed accumulation. Suffocating weed development, improving production quality, and harvesting, controlling soil temperature, enable large-scale experiments in microbial soils, worms, natural soil matter, and carbon stock, suffocating weed growth, improving output nature, and harvesting.
Sajid Ali, Ammara Fatima, Adnan Zahid, Sheraz Shoukat, Bisma, Robina Khaliq, Nimra Khan, Usman Ali, Ayesha Akram
Implications of Mulching on Weed Management in Crops and Vegetable
Global efforts are being made to reduce the world's high reliance on synthetic herbicides for weed control to protect human health and the environment and avoid the outbreak of weeds in various crops. Concerning the adverse effects on humans and the environment of the use of herbicides, a fair and cautious approach to restricting or even stopping the use of agrochemical products must be envisaged. Several methods provide information on agroecological activities in this context, such as mulching, which can contribute to the sustainable management of weeds in various field crops worldwide. In organic farming, mulching, by providing a barrier to sun, heat, or moisture exchange, is helpful as one strategy for integrated weed control. Evaporation is minimized, moisture is retained, and structure and temperature are controlled. On the other hand, the Mulching practice has many benefits, such as improving soil structure and texture by increasing infiltration and water retention and providing many insects and earthworms with a refuge. In addition, it promotes root penetration and growth and thus can also minimize erosion through nutrient uptake from deeper soil layers. Mulches control weeds by keeping the surface of the soil from receiving sunlight as light is needed for some weeds to germinate, and even necessary for all green plants to grow. Therefore, Mulches can be the best choice to control weeds in the field and reduce dependence on synthetic herbicides for weed control to prevent weeds’ germination in various agronomic crops.
Bilal Ahmad Khan, Aneela Nijabat, Muhammad Ishfaq Khan, Imtiaz Khan, Saima Hashim, Muhammad Athar Nadeem, Muhammad Ikram
Effects of Mulching on Crop Growth, Productivity and Yield
Mulching refers to the covering of bare land with organic or inorganic material for the betterment of soil and plants. Mulching not only improves the soil properties but also improves the growth and yield of many crops. Mulching improves the moisture status, temperature and nutrient status of the soil that are necessities for the better growth and yield of the crops. Ultimately mulching enhances the yield of many crops. This chapter will discuss the importance of mulching in agroecosystems-plants and soils. This chapter will highlight important aspects related to soil characteristics, the role of mulching in soil health and quality. It also includes important facters affecting the crop yield and impact of mulching for controlling these factors. It will also highlight the importance of mulching for vegetables, orchards and cereal crops relating to their yield characteristics.
Adeel Ahmad, Muhammad Yaseen, Hammad Hussain, Muhammad Naveed Tahir, Aqarab Husnain Gondal, Muhammad Iqbal, Amir Aziz, Muhammad Irfan, Zahoor Ahmad
Comparative Effects of Living and Non-living Mulches on Insect Pest Management in Agroecosystems
Organic farming and sustainable agriculture call for non-chemical, economic, and eco-friendly pest management techniques. Scientific efforts are underway to develop new or optimize the existing techniques. In this regard, habitat modification with mulching has been widely investigated on the suppression of insect pest abundance. In general, vegetationally diverse cropping systems impairs the herbivore’s ability to locate the host plant by creating physical barriers, disrupting the visual and olfactory cues, and enhancing plant defenses that lead to the reduction of pest abundance and disease incidences. Also, mulching increases natural enemy population density because of greater habitat diversity and food resources, thereby decreasing herbivore abundance indirectly by improving biological control activity. However, in some cases, mulching has negatively affected the crop yield by competing for available resources (water, nutrients, light, space, etc.), impacted natural enemy abundance and efficiency, or provided alternate hosts/refuge for the pest insects. Besides, mulching can also play a pivotal role in conserving and support the declining pollinator population by providing nectar and pollen, nesting sites, and refuge from predators. Overall, if appropriately planned, mulching might contribute significantly to insect pests’ non-chemical control and promote the diversity and abundance of natural enemies and pollinators.
Abrar Muhammad, Muhammad Ali, Muhammad Shakeel, Supaporn Buajan, Habib Ali

Environment Section

Mulching Effects on Soil Greenhouse Gas Emission in Agricultural Systems
Agricultural activities are among the most important sources of atmospheric GHGs that are the primary causes of adverse climate changes. Therefore, efforts must be made to reduce GHGs source capacities of different agricultural activities, including agronomic management practices. Due to associated benefits such as weed control, reduced irrigation and fertilizer demands, and improved nutrient and water use efficiency, soil surface mulching is gaining popularity especially plastic film mulch. Biomass residues and plastic film, the two most common materials used in soil mulching, may have similar benefits as mulch but differ significantly in their effects on soil physicochemical properties and GHGs-producing biochemical processes. This chapter discussed the impacts of plastic film and crop residue mulching approaches on GHGs emissions in upland and paddy cropping systems under different management strategies. The literature suggests that surface mulches shift GHGs emission rates by altering soil physicochemical properties, including soil moisture, temperature, pH, redox potential, and nutrients. A few studies included changes in the microbial community responsible for the producing and consuming of GHGs in soil, suggesting the complex role of surface mulching.
Xiaolin Liao, Saadatullah Malghani, Ahmad Ali, Ghulam Haider
Mulching: A New Concept for Climate Smart Agriculture
Climate change is a state of change in climatic condition driven by human activity directly or indirectly causing alteration of global temperature which becomes a drastic challenge to sustainable food security leads to a major loss to agricultural produce. This alteration of global temperature produce long term change in weather distribution patterns (CO2 availability, global temperature, intensity and rate of harsh weather events, up surging sea level and weather variability etc.). In order to reduce these damages, a new approach of Climate smart agriculture must be promoted for achieving sustainable agricultural productivity and incomes and also to mitigate the adverse effect of climate change and reduce greenhouse gases emissions. The need for providing large access of quality food and environment to individuals has encouraged the use of organic or inorganic materials as mulch that can maintain the physical and chemical condition of soil. Mulching is a covering material of soil surface with organic or inorganic material for improving soil structure, conserving soil moisture condition, soil temperature and reducing nutrient loss, salinity and erosion problems. Therefore, the present chapter gives a clear overview about the importance of mulching as organic fertilizer, soil regulator, water, nutrient and residue manager, improver in crop yield and productivity. The potential role of mulching in different climatic zones of Pakistan and also the role of mulch in minimizing different environmental stresses is also highlighted in this chapter.
Izhar Ullah, Syed Tanveer Shah, Abdul Basit, Muhammad Sajid, Muhammad Arif, Noman Ahmad, Fahad Noor
Mulches and Microplastic Pollution in the Agroecosystem
In recent decades, organic (plant and animal residues) and inorganic (plastic polyethylene) mulches have become globally considered an environmentally friendly agricultural practice for their instant benefits, such as preserving soil moisture, reducing soil evaporation, improving water efficiency, soil temperature regulation, shorten growth of weeds, enhancing microbial activity in the soil, higher yields, early harvesting, and improved crop quality. Similarly, the use of plastic mulch as a amendment for the restoration of contaminated soils is becoming increasingly popular, and its application is expanding. In the agroecosystem, microplastics with a particle size of 5 < mm can enter the soil either directly through irrigation water, application of biosolids, and atmospheric deposition or indirectly via the in situ degradation of large pieces of plastic mulch films. The legacy of this is that many soils are now contaminated with large amounts of plastic residues, and it is crucial for evaluating the risk of soil-borne emerging microplastic pollution. Thus, the problem associated with the use of plastic mulch remains poorly understood in the agroecosystem. Therefore, in this chapter, we critically discuss the recent understanding of the use of inorganic mulches related to microplastic pollution in the soil environment. The sources of inorganic mulches in the agroecosystem, distribution, and migration of microplastic in soils, mechanisms of soil microplastic, constraints and dynamic behavior of microplastics during aging on land, explore the responses of soil fauna to plastic particles at microscales, and mitigation strategies to prevent microplastic pollution is proposed.
Hafeez Ur Rahim, Waqas Ali Akbar, Naheeda Begum, Misbah Uddin, Muhammad Qaswar, Nawab Khan
Organic and Synthetic Mulching: Effects on Soil-Plant Productivity and Environment
Soil and water conservation are the important aspects in modern world, because of the scarcity of water, agricultural land degradation and soil loss mainly due to erosion. Mulching, a way to conserve both soil and water by covering it with different kinds of materials like organic (crop plant, compost, manures) or synthetic (paper, plastics, Aluminum foils). It controls evaporation rate and aids in managing soil and air microclimate. Through favorable microclimate, it improves soil physicochemical and biological properties. Mulches act as a soil cover to resist against erosion and provide congenial condition for plant growth. Mulching encourages soil and crop productivity, reduces the emergence of greenhouse gases and suppression of weeds. Plastic mulches are also becoming popular among farmers due to their low cost and easy handling. These materials have a greater importance than the organic ones as they are highly employable in controlled soil environment and could enhance soil-crop productivity. Mulching helps to balance hydro-thermal regimes by maintaining radiation flux, heat and water vapor transfer rate and soil heat capacity. Nowadays, biodegradable plastic mulches are employed which are relatively more sustainable as compared to conventional plastic mulches. The degradable nature of plastic mulches favors the microbial activities in soil, subsequently enhancing the productivity. The mulching could be effective in plant roots protection from hot, cold or drought conditions. This part covers the broader aspects related to application of mulches in maintaining microclimate and soil-plant productivity.
Sharjeel Ahmad, Hamza Tariq, Saria Abbas, Muhammad Arshad, Amer Mumtaz, Iftikhar Ahmed
Mulching is a Mechanism to Reduce Environmental Stresses in Plants
Mulching is considered as one of the most important elements of sustainable agriculture that promote growth and productivity of crop plants, reduce weed growth, maintain the optimal soil temperature and retain soil moisture and increase the aesthetic value of land and mitigate the adverse effect of biotic and abiotic stresses. Mulches (earlier agricultural bioproducts were used as mulch) gained popularity in the early-nineteenth century as a consequence of their ability to optimize the conditions for agricultural lands. The sources of organic mulches include plants and animals residues. Organic mulches that are widely used around the globe involves straws, husks, sawdust, grasses, manures and composts. Mulch made of polythene plastic is the most widely used inorganic mulch around the globe. It has been observed that mulch has a positive effect of environmental conditions such as light, heat, soil as well as crop growth, yield and quality. Mulch also helps to mitigate environmental stresses making favorable environment to the plant. This chapter emphasized on the importance of mulches in overcoming environmental stress in plants and gathers detailed information about the positive effect of mulch not only on plants but also on soils as well. Furthermore, information has also been given on the mitigation of different environmental stresses which harm crop growth.
Syed Tanveer Shah, Izhar Ullah, Abdul Basit, Muhammad Sajid, Muhammad Arif, Heba I. Mohamad
Role of Agricultural Soil Mulching on Net Global Warming Potential and Greenhouse Gas Intensity of Different Cropping Systems
Net global warming potential and greenhouse gas index express the actual environmental cost of an agricultural system and assist in solving the global challenges of increasing food production and identifying the primary targets for mitigation in different cropping systems and regions. This chapter reviews the effects of different soil surface mulching approaches on GWP, NGWP, and GHGI of different agricultural cultivation systems. We broadly discussed the prospects of mulching techniques used in isolation or combination with other conservation management approaches. In addition, the chapter also sheds light on methods of quantifying climate-related indexes and highlights the pros and cons of different protocols. The literature suggested that residue-based soil mulching may increase yield-scaled GWP due to its triggering effect on GHG emissions with and without improving crop yield. In contrast plastic film as mulch could reduce GWP by enhancing nutrient use efficiency and unique interaction with rainfall events that correlate with large pulses of GHGs emissions. Moreover CO2 equivalent C inputs in the soil were also reported to be higher in plastic film mulch systems than in crop residues suggesting relatively low NGWP and GHGI for the former mulching approach. However, changes in agronomic inputs and farm machinery requirements between plastic and residue mulching approaches were ignored entirely by the published reports and thus did not truly represent the potential of mulching to reduce or induce NGWP in different cropping systems. Residue mulching can decrease indirect GHGs emissions associated with agronomic inputs and farm operations.
Saadatullah Malghani, Xiaolin Liao
Mulching in Agroecosystems
herausgegeben von
Kashif Akhtar
Muhammad Arif
Muhammad Riaz
Haiyan Wang
Springer Nature Singapore
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