Plastic mulch for crop production
Plastic mulch is a growing alternative to organic matter mulch for commercial vegetable growers in Kenya. Other high-value crop farmers such as coffee estates have adopted this technology. It addresses the key challenges of organic mulch which are; disease and insect infection, and organic matter availability in some dry locations.
Mulching polythene by Grekkon Limited is supplied as silver on black. This is for tropical locations. It is a continuous sheet of polythene with a standard width of 1.2M and 1.6M. The grower makes holes or slits in spots where the crop will be established. We supply various thicknesses as; 23 microns, 30 microns, 60 microns, and 80 microns. Their lifespan is one, two, four and six seasons respectively, and a season is 4 months of production.
Other benefits of polythene mulch
- Fast crop maturity. The silver part on the outside reflects excess heat, while the black side remains on the inside to conserve heat at the root base. As a result of warm soil conditions, the crop matures fast. This reduces operational costs such as pesticide application, weeding, labor, and fertilizer use.
- Safer crop. Light reflected back from the silver is a deterrent to harmful pests, so fewer insecticides are applied.
- Less irrigation. The soil retains much water because of the low rate of evaporation experienced. This saves on irrigation water use and cost.
- Weed suppression. Weeds seeds or seedlings are covered and cannot grow. It eliminates competition for food, reduces disease incidence and the crop grows vigorously.
Plastic mulch is expensive to procure but provides huge savings in the season. It is more cost-effective than organic mulch in the longterm. Its disposal too after use is a challenge since it cannot be incorporated into the soil like organic mulch. It has to be disposed of by burning, which pollutes the atmosphere.
Grekkon Limited supplies polythene mulch to farmers in eastern Africa.