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Productivity Benefits from Plastic Mulch in Vegetable Production Likely to Limit Adoption of Alternate Practices that Deliver Water Quality Benefits: An On-Farm Case Study

Nachimuthu, Gunasekhar and Halpin, Neil V. and Bell, Michael J. (2017) Productivity Benefits from Plastic Mulch in Vegetable Production Likely to Limit Adoption of Alternate Practices that Deliver Water Quality Benefits: An On-Farm Case Study. Horticulturae, 3 (3). p. 42. ISSN 2311-7524

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Article Link(s): http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/horticulturae3030042

Publisher URL: http://www.mdpi.com/2311-7524/3/3/42

Abstract

Intensive tillage, high fertiliser inputs, and plastic mulch on the soil surface are widely used by vegetable growers. A field investigation was carried out to quantify the impact of alternate land management and fertiliser practices designed to improve offsite water quality on the productivity of vegetable rotations within a sugarcane farming system in a coastal region of subtropical northeast Australia. Successive crops of capsicum and zucchini were grown in summer 2010–2011 and winter 2011, respectively, using four different management practices. These were ‘Conventional’—the current conventional practice using plastic mulch, bare inter-rows, conventional tillage, and commercial fertiliser inputs; ‘Improved’—a modified conventional system using plastic mulch in the cropped area, an inter-row vegetative mulch, zonal tillage, and reduced fertiliser rates; ‘Trash mulch’—using cane trash or forage sorghum residues instead of plastic mulch, with reduced fertiliser rates and minimum or zero tillage; and ‘Vegetative mulch’—using Rhodes grass or forage sorghum residues instead of plastic mulch, with minimum or zero tillage and reduced fertiliser rates. During the second vegetable crop (zucchini), each management practice was split to receive either soil test-based nutrient inputs or a common, luxury rate of nutrient addition. The ’Trash mulch’ and ‘Vegetative mulch’ systems produced up to 43% lower capsicum and zucchini yields than either of the plastic mulch systems. The relative yield difference between trash systems and plastic mulch management systems remained the same for both the soil test-based and high nutrient application strategies, suggesting that factors other than nutrition (e.g., soil temperature) were driving these differences

Item Type:Article
Business groups:Crop and Food Science
Subjects:Agriculture > Agriculture (General) > Agricultural education > Research. Experimentation
Agriculture > Agriculture (General) > Soil conservation and protection
Agriculture > Agriculture (General) > Fertilisers
Plant culture > Vegetables
Deposited On:12 Jan 2018 07:07
Last Modified:12 Jan 2018 07:07

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