Nelly Bassily | October 17, 2011
Mulch is any material (such as decaying leaves, compost or grasses) that is spread on the soil or around a plant to enrich or protect the soil. Many different materials can be used for mulching. Farmers use mulch for various purposes: to protect soils from erosion, to add nutrients, to suppress weeds, to preserve soil moisture, or to add organic matter to soils. Used carefully, mulch can provide many of these benefits, often at the same time. There are, however, situations where mulching is not appropriate. In humid areas, for example, moist and warm conditions can encourage the crop to rot, or mould to flourish.
For background information on mulching, you can visit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mulch
Previous Farm Radio Weekly stories on conserving soils include:
-Malawi: Vetiver grass is a tool for soil and water management (FRW 67, May 2009)
Soil health was the topic of scripts in package 91, July 2010. Browse the scripts at http://www.farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/numerical.asp and read more about mulching and soils in the Issue pack: http://farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/91-9script_en.asp
These scripts dealing with mulch may inspire you:
-Are burning crop residues and grass good for soil health and fertility? Views from a farmer and an agricultural researcher (Package 91, Script 1, July 2010) http://farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/91-1script_en.asp
-Nature is never naked: The importance of mulch (Package 75, Script 1, June 2005) http://farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/75-1script_en.asp
Mulching is a simple and normally inexpensive technique that can be used to improve degraded soils under many conditions. It would be a good topic to consider as part of a program on practical and low-cost farming practices. Find out more about the use of mulching in your broadcast area by talking to agricultural extension workers or NGO staff. Ask them to participate in an interview or show, and ask them to provide technical information. Make sure they explain advantages and disadvantages which are relevant to local farming conditions. If possible, ask farmers to call in with questions or to share experiences.