Live Mulch system for better agriculture

By. Aqib Hussain Sial, Agronomist

Live Mulch System


living mulches are cover vegetation planted either before or with a primary crop and maintained as a living ground cover during the growing season. If the living mulch is a perennial, it can be feasible to preserve it from year to 12 months without the need for reseeding. The conventional cropping system, the usage of a moldboard plow or in depth mechanical cultivation, has a potential for high soil erosion, which extended whilst herbicides made it viable to keep the soil weed unfastened for the entire 12 months.

Benefits of living mulch

Soil erosion

The primary gain of living Mulch is reduction of water runoff and soil erosion, which in the end consequences in progressed soil productiveness. No-tillage and different conservation tillage practices mixed with cover crops can extensively reduce runoff and soil erosion loss. when corn changed into planted into a birdsfoot trefoil or crownvetch living mulch on a 14% slope, water runoff, soil loss, and pesticide loss had been reduced from ninety five to > 99% as compared with conventional until corn. The soil loss from corn planted into birdsfoot trefoil and crownvetch changed into insignificant. Soil is vulnerable to erosion whilst there may be no vegetative floor cover or plant residue at the floor. A living cover crop provides vegetative cover throughout those intervals while a crop isn’t always present to cushion the force of falling raindrops, which in any other case could detach soil particles and increase erosion. It additionally slows the rate of runoff, therefore improving moisture infiltration into the soil. The aim is to reduce soil erosion to something much less than 4 to 5 lots ha-1 yr.



Reduction in Surface Water Pollution

With the continuous presence of cover vegetation, surface water runoff is significantly reduced, and the loss of nutrients and pesticides with the aid of this route are nearly definitely cast off.

Added Organic Matter

Living Mulches, as well as manure or crop residues, upload organic matter to the soil, which increases soil tilth and productiveness. At one time, soils of the U.S. corn belt contained approximately 12% organic count. After a hundred year of crop manufacturing, the average organic matter content material is now less than 6%. The common natural matter content of most agricultural soils is even lower, so any boom in natural depend will advantage those soils even extra. In no-till crop production, the natural be counted becomes concentrated on the soil floor, which greatly improves soil tilth.

Improved Soil Structure and Tilth

cover vegetation enhances soil structure, tilth, and water-holding capacity and reduce the hazard of environmental pollutants from nitrogen fertilizer.91). natural matter bonds soil particles into aggregates. additionally, the smash down of plant residues by using soil microbes produce gums that glue larger aggregates together into peds. This system outcomes in greater soil permeability and aeration, which eases crop emergence and promotes root growth. Tillage is less complicated in a soil with properly tilth and planting, even if it is easier accomplished without prior tillage

Greater Soil Productivity

If an ever-growing population is to be fed, production will should boom. this can require farming marginal soils with already low productiveness. Such soils advantage maximum from cover plants but cover crop use on better soils also will reverse the downward trend in productivity due to losses in organic be counted, vitamins, and topsoil. living ground covers stop nutrient loss in surface runoff and tie up excess nitrate, vitamins, and residual pesticides to prevent leaching into the groundwater.

Weed Control

The presence of winter annual or living mulches will assist control get away weeds and can prevent or sluggish down the invasion of new weeds that could in any other case become a trouble in no-till corn. white clover living mulch offers weed manage similar to modern-day commercial herbicide packages in sweet corn and snap beans. in addition, winter rye, ryegrasses (Lolium spp.), and subterranean clover (Trifo lium subterraneum L.) are allelopathic and help to suppress or control weeds. Sub terranean clover provided almost perfect weed manage both with and without a corn crop. This shows that some mulches can, in the presence of a corn crop, offer adequate weed manipulate without the use of herbicides or mechanical tillage. The idea of the use of a dwelling mulch as a “unique weed” and gaining knowledge of to live with it’s far very attractive when as compared with the constant battle of gaining knowledge of to combat an ever-changing weed spectrum.

Weeds as an Alternative Living Mulch

Rather than seeded species used as ground cover, certainly going on weeds may be used. Weeds in sugar beet are typically controlled by using preemergence or several submit emergence herbicide mixtures. The end result is a shift in the weed vegetation and growth in resistant weeds. Sugar beet needs to be weed free from 6 to eight leaves till harvest and no longer in all seasons. the primary obstacle to the introduction of past due weed manage by using beet growers is the truth that, to this point, all selective huge spectrum herbicides are effective handiest at the weed seedling level. For overdue weed manipulate, glufosinate or glyphosate in genetically modified (GM)-resistant beet offers new possibilities. whilst carried out late, one or at maximum programs of glufosinate permit sufficient weed manage till beet harvest.

Drawbacks of the live mulching

When the cover crops are killed with the herbicide, then these cover crops when added in soil as green manure can deteriorate the soil health and microbes. Living mulching can be a host of some harmful diseases and pests, which can cause the disease in main crop. When the conditions are harsh, like dry conditions then the live mulching are not good because they compete for water with main crops. Living mulches compete with main crop for nutrients and water, this leads to reduce yields of main crop. Leguminous cover crops have more biomass production, because legumes is used as living mulches having more N contents and low the C: N. So, when legume residue decomposes, soil microbes have more the nitrogen available to increase their breakdown of organic materials in the soil. Some seeds of the mulch crop remain in soil and in next crop they cause the problem and reduce the main crop production.


The use of living mulches provides a method of weed management that makes reduced tillage a more feasible operation in organic systems.  The incorporation of living mulches can increase farm diversity, establishing a system that naturally balances insects, weeds and diseases, and may be more resilient at suppressing pest populations if they increase.


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