Scientific research

Soil mulching with transparent polyethylene film (sowing under the film)

Author: Knowledge Management in CACILM Phase II, ICARDA.

Definition of technology:

Soil mulching with transparent plastic film for growing cotton is a method of heat amelioration, which regulates the temperature of the root zone, and has an integrated and a positive effect on the water-physical soil properties, water regime and microbiological environment.

Brief summary of technology:

One of the ways to improve the energy regime of the soil root zone and near-surface air is soil mulching (any surface shading: stubble, manure, humus, compost, straw, sawdust, leaves, polymer films of different colors and thicknesses, and others). Properties of the mulching materials are very different and their impact on plants and the environment is also diverse.

Technology of soil mulching with plastic film is as follows: under cotton cultivation with 60 cm row spacing, every two planted rows (skipping one row-spacing) are covered with a film of 90 cm width and 70-100 microns thick. Approximately 8-10 cm from each side of  the film are buried into the soil. After the emergence of plant shoots, the film is cut in every plant location by a blade to allow plants to grow. The soil under the film is not processed during the growing season. Mulching with transparent film is a highly efficient agro-technical practice having an integrated effect on water-physical properties and thermal regulatory regime. This approach helps to preserve the moisture in the root zone and the accumulation of a sufficient amount of heat to obtain an early and full-value cotton shoots. Mulching with plastic film allows gradual increase of active soil temperature from spring to summer, peaking in June, followed by a gradual decline.

Regardless of soil and climatic conditions, 85-95% of cotton balls burst until late September (vs. 60-70% in control plots). In the traditional method, adverse conditions often force to reseed cotton, thus disrupting the development cycle, leading to delay of crop ripening and lower yields. Soil mulching softens the extreme weather conditions of sharply continental climate, creates optimal conditions for the crop development, positively influencing not only the crop yield, but also its quality.

Location: Yangiyul district, Tashkent province, irrigated meadow soil and irrigated typical gray soil.

Area of technology application: 30 hа.

Stage of intervention: alleviation / reduction of land degradation.

Main land use issues and the main causes of land degradation:

Very hot summers and cool nights during spring periods, frequent protracted and rainy springs with lower daily average temperature are a limiting factor for the development of thermophilic crops such as cotton.

Main technical features of technology:

Regulation of temperature and water regime in the root zone, improvement of water-physical properties and structure of soil, optimization of conditions for plant growth.

Type of land use Conservation measures

Arable land.

Cultivation of annual crops (cotton) - Во(Ca).

Agronomic measures:

А1: Vegetation / soil cover.


Habitat Anthropogenic environment

Average annual rainfall: 250-500 and above 700 mm.

Altitude (meter above sea level): 100-500 m.

Landscape: plains, valley.

Slope (%): 0-2% (10); 2-5%, 5-8%.

Soil fertility: average.

Humus content in arable horizon: 0.5-1%; 1-3%.

Natural soil drainage/infiltration: average.

Size of land area (ha): 30 ha.

Landholder: farmer households.

Land ownership: long term lease.

Water use rights: through WUAs and organizations responsible for management of irrigation systems.

Market orientation: mixed farming (subsistence and commercial).


Impact of technology

Main advantages:

- regulation of the thermal soil regime;

- reduction of physical evaporation, preventing crusting;

- reducing volume of work by 50%;

- reducing costs by 20-25% (inter-row cultivation, irrigation and fertilizing are conducted through the beds).

Main disadvantages:

High cost of polymer film, the process of removing the film from the field is not mechanized as well as the need to conduct spring works of cutting the film over each plant nest, the need for disposal of used film, lack of study of the effect of long-term soil film cover on the soil fertility due to violation of gas exchange with the atmosphere.

Acceptance/adoption of technology: external financial support is required.

Reference(s): Traditional knowledge and scientific experiments of Professor Turapov I., Tashkent State  Agrarian University.

Name of person(s) collected this description: Prof. Ma`ruf Tashkuziev, State Scientific-Research Institute of Soil Science & Agrochemistry.

Address: 3, Kamarniso str.,Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

Tel.: +99871 2271399, +99890 9975784.





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