How Covering Soil Affects Tomato Growth in Greenhouses

Jim Crocker
24th February, 2024

How Covering Soil Affects Tomato Growth in Greenhouses

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

In the quest for sustainable agriculture, scientists are constantly exploring innovative methods to enhance crop yield while conserving resources. A recent study from Taiyuan Normal University[1] sheds light on how different inorganic mulching techniques can influence the growth of tomatoes in the chilly climes of China's unheated greenhouses. Mulching, a practice of covering the soil around plants, is known to affect soil temperature and moisture—two critical factors for plant growth. The study compared six mulching treatments: no mulching (control), white film, black film, white film with holes (white hole), black film with holes (black hole), and snake skin bag mulching. The results were clear: mulching significantly improved the soil's hydrothermal environment, which in turn boosted tomato yield and water use efficiency while reducing soil water consumption. Interestingly, the variation in daily mean soil temperature among the mulching treatments was minimal, staying within a narrow range of 1.95-2.20 °C. This was a stark contrast to the control's 3.42 °C variation, indicating that mulching can stabilize soil temperature. Soil moisture levels, however, varied more significantly, with the snake skin mulching achieving the highest moisture content at 23.37%. The study's findings resonate with earlier research[2], which examined the effects of biodegradable films on soil nutrients and the growth of taro plants. In that study, different biodegradable films were found to influence soil nutrient content and plant growth, with some films significantly increasing the yield of taro. Another previous study[3] focused on maize and found that plastic film mulching, combined with fertigation (a method of applying fertilizer with irrigation water), could enhance soil nitrate levels, root growth, and ultimately grain yield. This study also highlighted the importance of the root-shoot ratio in the effectiveness of mulching. The current research expands on these earlier findings by demonstrating that mulching not only affects soil nutrients and plant growth but also plays a crucial role in maintaining a stable soil hydrothermal environment, which is vital for plant health and productivity. The plastic-hole mulching treatments, including white hole and black hole, were particularly effective in this regard. The implications of these studies are significant for agriculture, especially in regions with challenging climates. By carefully selecting and applying mulching techniques, farmers can create more favorable conditions for crop growth, leading to better yields and more efficient use of water. In conclusion, the Taiyuan Normal University study provides valuable insights into the benefits of inorganic mulching for tomato cultivation in cold zones. It ties together previous research on biodegradable films[2] and mulching effects on maize[3], underscoring the broader applicability of mulching as a beneficial agricultural practice. As the world grapples with the challenges of food security and sustainable farming, such research offers practical solutions that can be adapted to various crops and environmental conditions.



Main Study

1) Effects of inorganic mulching on soil hydrothermal environment and tomato characters in the presence of unheated greenhouse cultivation.

Published 22nd February, 2024

Related Studies

2) Degradation characteristics of biodegradable film and its effects on soil nutrients in tillage layer, growth and development of taro and yield formation.

3) Plastic film mulching stimulates brace root emergence and soil nutrient absorption of maize in an arid environment.

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