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Plastic mulching made easier with machine

  • PLASTIC MULCHING EASIER AND FASTER – The use of plastic sheet for mulching various crops, especially vegetables and other high-value crops has become a common practice among progressive farmers. The latest innovation is the use of a mulching machine to make installing the plastic mulch easier and cheaper. The machine was developed by Agritecno Yazaki engineers and was demonstrated (in photo) during the recent harvest festival staged by Agri-Tech Integrated Services Company in its Farm 2 in Brgy. Talaga, Tanauan City.

    PLASTIC MULCHING EASIER AND FASTER – The use of plastic sheet for mulching various crops, especially vegetables and other high-value crops has become a common practice among progressive farmers. The latest innovation is the use of a mulching machine to make installing the plastic mulch easier and cheaper. The machine was developed by Agritecno Yazaki engineers and was demonstrated (in photo) during the recent harvest festival staged by Agri-Tech Integrated Services Company in its Farm 2 in Brgy. Talaga, Tanauan City.

  • VEGETABLE PRODUCTION TRAINEES – Trainees in vegetable production conducted by seed companies and farm schools learn to use plastic mulch. It is a technique that is used to produce higher-yielding and high-quality vegetables and other high-value crops. For one, the mulch prevents the growth of weeds in the plot, conserves moisture during summer and prevents water-soaking during the rainy season.

    VEGETABLE PRODUCTION TRAINEES – Trainees in vegetable production conducted by seed companies and farm schools learn to use plastic mulch. It is a technique that is used to produce higher-yielding and high-quality vegetables and other high-value crops. For one, the mulch prevents the growth of weeds in the plot, conserves moisture during summer and prevents water-soaking during the rainy season.

  • MULCHED BOTTLE GOURD -  A better crop of bottle gourd or “upo” can be achieved with plastic mulching as in photo. Bottle gourd is a cash crop that produces harvestable fruits in just 45 days from planting. There are several varieties to choose from as they come in different sizes and shapes. The one in photo is a variety from Allied Botanical Corporation.

    MULCHED BOTTLE GOURD - A better crop of bottle gourd or “upo” can be achieved with plastic mulching as in photo. Bottle gourd is a cash crop that produces harvestable fruits in just 45 days from planting. There are several varieties to choose from as they come in different sizes and shapes. The one in photo is a variety from Allied Botanical Corporation.

  • MULCHED WATERMELON – Even watermelon can benefit from plastic mulching. With plastic mulch the fruits don’t get soiled because the mulch protects them. As a result, the fruits are usually blemish-free. Such fruits command a higher price in the market. Other high-value vine crops that can be benefited by plastic mulching include honeydew melons and melons

    MULCHED WATERMELON – Even watermelon can benefit from plastic mulching. With plastic mulch the fruits don’t get soiled because the mulch protects them. As a result, the fruits are usually blemish-free. Such fruits command a higher price in the market. Other high-value vine crops that can be benefited by plastic mulching include honeydew melons and melons

  • MULCHED BELL PEPPER – To maximize the beneficial effect of plastic mulching, the planting bed should be applied with organic and inorganic fertilized during rotavation. This will provide the plants adequate nutrition for robust growth and high yield. Photo shows a fruitful mulched bell pepper that is apparently well nourished.

    MULCHED BELL PEPPER – To maximize the beneficial effect of plastic mulching, the planting bed should be applied with organic and inorganic fertilized during rotavation. This will provide the plants adequate nutrition for robust growth and high yield. Photo shows a fruitful mulched bell pepper that is apparently well nourished.

  • MULCHED CUCUMBER – Plastic mulch prevents the low-lying fruits of cucumber from getting splashed with soil as shown in photo. Aside from protecting the fruits from being soiled, mulching prevents the growth of weeds that can rob the plants of nutrients in the soil. To produce a bountiful crop, plastic mulching is not enough. The soil should be thoroughly rotavated and adequate organic fertilizer reinforced with inorganic fertilizer should be applied during rotavation.

    MULCHED CUCUMBER – Plastic mulch prevents the low-lying fruits of cucumber from getting splashed with soil as shown in photo. Aside from protecting the fruits from being soiled, mulching prevents the growth of weeds that can rob the plants of nutrients in the soil. To produce a bountiful crop, plastic mulching is not enough. The soil should be thoroughly rotavated and adequate organic fertilizer reinforced with inorganic fertilizer should be applied during rotavation.

The use of plastic mulch in growing various crops, especially vegetables, has become very popular with farmers these days. This is the use of plastic sheet installed atop the planting bed. The usual dimension of those in the market is one meter wide and 400 meters long currently costing about P900 to P1,000 each.

Toto Barcelona of Harbest Agribusiness is the fellow we know who first introduced plastic mulching commercially in the Philippines.  He will tell you that the first shipment of 10 rolls that he brought from Taiwan in 1998 took him more than a year to sell. Today, 18 years later, he could sell to just one customer one container load consisting of several hundred rolls. That’s how much the use plastic mulch has become popular as a standard practice among successful farmers.

Plastic mulching offers several advantages. First, it prevents the growth of weeds in the plot. During the dry months, the mulch conserves moisture in the soil. And during the rainy months, it prevents waterlogging because rain water does not get through the plastic sheet. The plastic mulch also protects some low-growing fruits from getting soiled.

MECHANIZED INSTALLATION – In the beginning, installing the plastic mulch required skill and time. Workers would manually roll out the plastic mulch, putting bamboo pegs along the sides to keep the sheet in place. This system is quite laborious and could takes 10 people as long as two days to mulch one hectare.

The old system could be expensive, too, considering the increasing cost of labor. According to Dante Delima of Agri-Tech Integrated Services Company (ATISCO), the cost of manually mulching one hectare, including the cost of rotavating the soil but excluding the cost of the plastic materials,  could amount to P35,000 per hectare.

Today, the job could be accomplished faster and at a much cheaper cost, thanks to plastic mulching equipment developed by engineers of Agritecno Yazaki Co. based in Calamba City. The placement of the mulch is done by a small tractor that stretches the roll of the mulching material from one end of the field to the other.

The mulch is installed firmly without any pegs to keep the plastic sheet in place. And installation is fast. It takes only four hours to finish installing the plastic mulch on one hectare using the Agritecno Yazaki machine. And it is much cheaper than when manual labor is used.

In the past year, ATISCO has been engaged by commercial vegetable farmers in Batangas to rotavate and mulch their vegetable fields. And the total cost, excluding the cost of plastic materials, is P15,000 per hectare. It means a saving of P20,000 per hectare on the part of the commercial vegetable farmer, according to Dante Delima.

He pointed out that when the placement of the mulch is by machine, only two workers are needed. If installation is done manually by several workers, it will take much longer to finish the job and the owner also has to provide meals and snacks to the laborers. That cost money, too.

VERY IMPORTANT TIP – Toto Barcelona has a very important tip for those who mulch their plants with plastic. During rotavation, adequate organic fertilizer should be incorporated in the soil. It could be processed organic fertilizer, vermicast and the like. Depending on the kind of crop, chemical fertilizer could also be applied before installing the plastic mulch.

So there you are. There is cheaper and more efficient means of installing your plastic mulch in the field.

AGRI EVENTS THIS WEEKEND – You can attend two agri events this weekend. One is the AANI Agri-Bazaar cum Agri-Kapihan at the Quezon Memorial Circle in Quezon City on Sept. 16-18. The other is Urban Agriculture trade fair at the Market! Market Central Park in Taguig City on Sept. 17-18, Saturday and Sunday. See you there!