EFFECT OF MULCHING ON WEED CONTROL AND SOIL WATER CONSERVATION
Organic and inorganic mulching helps to control weeds. Mulching helps cultivated plants to grow by inhibiting the growth of weeds, retaining soil moisture, and regulating the temperature of soil. The objective of this study was to determine the Effect of mulching on weed control and soil water conservation. The mulches used in studying maize plant growth were wheat straw, non-shredded Miscanthus (M. × giganteus), and shredded Miscanthus (M. × giganteus) mulch. A Randomized Complete Block Design (RCBD) was used in the study, with different quantitative methods were used to collect data. ANOVA tests were utilized to statistically analyze data. The research found that shredded Miscanthus × giganteus was the most appropriate because it inhibited weed growth by depriving the weeds of sunlight required in seed germination and growth. The results of the study also showed a statistically significant difference between mulch treatments and the control, on Maize plant growth. Non-shredded Miscanthus (M. × giganteus) together with wheat straw produced the highest macronutrient and micronutrient levels in the soil. Also, non-shredded Miscanthus (M. × giganteus) mulch stimulated Maize plant growth by providing micro- and micronutrients and led to an increase in the stem diameter, length, flower sets, and the formation of flower buds. The conclusion of the study also indicated nonshredded Miscanthus (M. × giganteus) is a preferred alternative to wheat straw for gardeners. The limitations of this study included the possibility of different climatic conditions influencing various outcomes, the controlled setting as not representative of a real-life setting, and a generalization of results despite the study dealing with one type of plant.
Mulching is a popular weed control method that has been used successfully in many countries (Amoghein, Tobeh, Gholipouri, Jamaati-e-Somarin, & Ghasemi, 2013). Both organic mulches and inorganic mulches are used, although the former is widely used in cropping systems because of its success in keeping weeds under control and reducing the need for soil tillage, as there are less weeds. Since temperature and soil moisture affect weed seed germination, mulch preserves soil moisture, maintaining higher levels of moisture as compared to soil without mulch (Teame, Tsegay, & Abrha, 2017). Mulches spread on soil surfaces lower average soil temperature during the hot season, thus keeping the temperature in the regular range during the growing season (Blazewicz-Wozniak, 2010; Forge, Hogue, Neilsen, & Nielsen, 2003).
Mulching is a vital part of good landscape management. In ornamental landscapes, mulching can be both decorative and functional. Mulching not only helps to shield the plant roots from frost, intense heat, and nutrient loss, but also aids in stabilizing the ecology by protecting the plants from stress, strain, and shock from various internal and external factors. The are many benefits of mulching, which include suppressing weed growth, maintaining soil moisture, preventing loss of soil water through evaporation, and buffering soil temperature (Ji & Unger, 2001). Mulches can also prevent traffic-, water-, and wind-induced compaction and erosion (Sinkeviciene, Jodaugiene, Pupaliene, & Urboniene, 2009). Lastly, mulches can increase crop production because they improve the soil quality by enhancing the physical and chemical properties of soil, which in turn enriches the biological activities of the soil. Therefore, mulching in ornamental or urban landscapes betters the soil quality and thus the growth of the plant (Marble, Koeser, Hasing, McClean, & Chandler, 2017). The mulches used in ornamental landscapes can be organic or inorganic materials. Organic materials include leaves, bark, or straw, whereas inorganic materials include polyethylene film, pebbles, and gravel. (Silva-Filho, et al., 2014). In general, mulches can provide aesthetically pleasing yet functional effects in ornamental landscapes.
Mulching is multifunctional as it is capable of controlling the nutrient level, absorbency, temperature and water level of the soil (Petrikovszki, Körösi, Nagy, Simon &Zalai, 2016). There are some basic requirements for mulch so that its use can deliver the effective results in agriculture. Mulch to satisfactorily destroy weeds sprouting in the soil underneath the mulch and creating a root structure. Mulch should also help conserve soil moister and improve nutrient obtainability as well regulate soil temperature (Manzello, Suzuki, Kagiya, Suzuki and Hayashi, 2014).
Various types of organic mulches have different effects on weed control, plant growth, and soil properties (Jodaugiene, Pupaliene, Urboniene, Pranckietis, &Pranckietiene, 2006). This study was carried out to determine the effects of different organic mulches on weed cobtrol and soil conservation. The organic materials that will be investigated in the study include wheat straw mulch, non-shredded Miscanthus (non-shredded M. × giganteus mulch), and shredded Miscanthus (shredded M. × giganteus mulch). The plant under study is Maize plant.
Statement of the Problem
Organic mulches have numerous benefits and add nutritional value to the soil through decomposition. Consumers have many options when choosing which organic mulch to use. Various mulches have differing effects on the soil, plant health, and weed control. This study evaluates the effects of three organic mulches on plant growth, soil properties, and weed suppression as compared with non-mulched soil control
Purpose of the Study
This study will be carried out to determine the Effect of mulching on weed control and soil water conservation. The study focused on the effect of mulch on plant vegetation, flower set, length and diameter of the stem, and date of formation of floral buds. In terms of soil properties, the study focused on how the mulches influence the general soil elements, such as phosphorus, potassium,calcium, magnesium, zinc, and soil pH.
- What is the effect of the three different mulches on weed presence?
- How does mulching affect the properties of the soil?
- What is the effect of the three different mulches on plant growth?
Basic Assumptions of the Study
Some assumptions were made during the experiment. Some of these assumptions are that all three mulches will not be contain weed seeds before they are applied, repeated mulching due to decomposition will not be required during the experiment period, and all three mulches will suppress weeds. In addition to the three different mulches will improve plant growth and soil properties.
H01: There will be no difference in weed presence between the four treatments.
HR1: There will be a difference in weed presence between the four treatments.
H02: There will be no difference in soil properties between the four treatments.
HR2: There will be a difference in soil properties between the four treatments.
Delimitations of the Study
The study was conducted from August 2019 until October 2019 in Zaria, Kaduna State.
The following are delimitations of the study:
- The study was limited to the same treatments throughout all replications.
- The study was limited to three different mulches treatments (wheat straw, nonshredded × giganteus, and shredded M. × giganteus).
- The study was limited to one variety of Maize plant.
Limitations of the Study
There are several limitations in this study, which might affect the outcome. The first shortcoming was that it was not possible to determine the quantity of micro- and macronutrients in the mulches because chemical analyses of the mulches were not undertaken. The second limitation is a probability that nutrient uptake and release varies depending on the weather patterns, which is a variable that was not explored in the present research so, is that it is not clear whether different climatic conditions would achieve similar results as found in this study. Another limitation is that, since this experiment is controlled, it will likely not fully represent a real-life situation. Finally, this study is only dealing with one type of plant, so the results of different plant species in the four mulches could vary. In addition, this study is limited to the soil type(s) in the plot area.
Significance of the Study
The study aimed to determine the effect of varying mulches on weed control and soil conservation. The results of the experiment may help farmers to understand the best mulch to apply and the positive impact that it will have on the plant. Having used four different methods of treatment in quantifying the effects of the mulches, the results may help to identify which mulch is the most useful for weed control. Analyzing the impact on the different factors studied was also done to provide advice to farmers regarding the optimum time to apply varying types of mulches (Mark, 2015). The research was conducted to analyze the effects of mulches on soil properties to identify the best mulch to enhance soil properties. Also, the research was conducted in order to analyze the effects of the weed population on the growth of the Maize plant. This was completed in order to understand the amount of mulch that should be applied and the expected outcome of this application on the plant.
Definition of Terms
- Mulch: Mulch refers to any material that is spread over the soil surface as a covering. It can be either organic or inorganic.
- Organic Mulch: Organic mulch refers to a mulch material that readily decomposes over time, such as leaves, straw, hay, shredded bark, etc. (Rodale Inc., 2017).
- Inorganic Mulch: Inorganic mulch is different from organic mulch because it is made up of inert materials that cannot decompose over time. Examples include gravels, plastic sheeting, rocks, etc. (Qin, Hu, & Oenema, 2015).
- Weed Control: Weed control refers to the process of preventing growth or spread of unwanted plants. This can be done using various methods that can be classified as chemical, mechanical, and manual.
- Soil Properties: Soil properties refer to soil color, chemistry, porosity, structure, and texture, which are determined by the composition of soil elements, such as air, water, organic matter, and mineral particles (Ni, Song, Zhang, Yang, & Wang, 2016). EFFECT OF MULCHING ON WEED CONTROL AND SOIL WATER CONSERVATION