Effect of degradable mulch on tomato growth and yield under field conditions

Mysoon Alamro1, Atif Mahadeen2, Osama Mohawesh2
1 Ministry of Agriculture, Mogeb Agricultural Center, Karak, Jordan
1 Mutah Univerisity, P.O. Box: 7, Faculty of Agriculture, Department of Plant Production, Karak 61710, Jordan


Alamro, M., Mahadeen, A. & Mohawesh, O. (2019). Effect of degradable mulch on tomato growth and yield under field conditions. Bulgarian Journal of Agricultural Science, 25 (6), 1122–1132

The degradable mulch was synthesized to be as anenvironmentally friendly alternative to polyethylene plastic mulch; its adoption could help in alleviating the environmental pollution as well as the removal and disposal problems of polyethylene mulch. The present study was conducted to evaluate the degradable mulch performance on tomato growth and yield under Jordan environmental conditions. The study consisted of four mulch treatments (polyethylene, oxo-degradable, biodegradable mulches and no mulch (bare soil) as a control).
The current results showed that oxo-degradable and biodegradable mulches are capable of soil moisture preservation similar to polyethylene mulch. All mulching plot had significantly higher soil temperature than bare soil. The benefits of biodegradable mulch on soil microbial community (bacteria and fungi) and soil organic carbon content were well evident with a significant effect. The improvement of tomato plant growth was noticed mainly in leaf area, fresh and dry weight of shoot under biodegradable mulch treatment. The current findings revealed a significant difference in percent visual degradation among mulch treatments. The biodegradable mulch had the highest percent of visual degradation (80%) followed by oxo-degradable mulch (40%). The degradation of polyethylene mulch, as expected (3.17%), was less evident, remained practically intact and had the lowest percentage of visual mulch degradation at the end of the growing season. Based on our results, the using of biodegradable mulch can perform similar and/or better than polyethylene mulch in term of tomato growth and yield, which could be adopted as a sustainable alternative to polyethylene mulch. Whereas, oxo-degradable mulch, despite having a beneficial effect similar to polyethylene mulch on tomato growth and yield, it was not satisfying to be an environmentally friendly alternative to conventional plastic mulch due to fragmented into small pieces, and left too many plastic residues in the experiment site that needs manual removal.

Keywords: polyethylene mulch; oxo-degradable mulch; biodegradable mulch; degradation

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