PLASTIC MULCHING MADE EASY & CHEAPER

Installing plastic mulch using a mulcher pulled by a small tractor. The mulcher was developed by Agritecno Yazaki Co.
Installing plastic mulch using a mulcher pulled by a small tractor. The mulcher was developed by Agritecno Yazaki Co.

The use of plastic mulch in growing various crops, especially vegetables, has become very popular with farmers these days. This is the use of plastic sheet installed atop the planting bed. The usual dimension of those in the market is one meter wide and 400 meters long costing about P900 to P1,000 each.

Toto Barcelona of Harbest Agribusiness is the fellow we know who first introduced plastic mulching. He will tell you that the first shipment of 10 rolls that he brought from Taiwan in 1998 took him more than a year to sell. Today, 18 years later, one customer would buy one container load. That shows how the use plastic mulch has become popular as a standard practice among successful farmers.

Ditas Marquez and Zac B. Sarian observing sweet pepper with plastic mulch.
Ditas Marquez and Zac B. Sarian observing sweet pepper with plastic mulch.
Plastic mulching offers several advantages. First, it prevents the growth of weeds in the plot. During the dry months, the mulch conserves moisture in the soil. And during the rainy months, it prevents waterlogging. The plastic mulch also protects some low-growing fruits from getting soiled.

Plastic mulch keeps cucumber fruits from getting soiled.
Plastic mulch keeps cucumber fruits from getting soiled.

MECHANIZED INSTALLATION – In the beginning, installing the plastic mulch required skill. Workers would manually roll out the plastic mulch, putting bamboo pegs along the sides to keep the sheet in place. This system is quite laborious and could take 10 people as long as two to four days to mulch one hectare.

The old system could be expensive, too, considering the increasing cost of labor. According to Dante Delima of Agri-Tech Integrated Services Company (ATISCO), the cost of mulching one hectare, including the cost of rotavating the field but not including the cost of the plastic materials, could amount to P35,000 per hectare.

Upo with plastic mulch is very fruitful.
Upo with plastic mulch is very fruitful.
Today, the job could be accomplished faster and at a much cheaper cost, thanks to a plastic mulching equipment developed by engineers of Agritecno Yazaki Co. based in Calamba City. The placement of the mulch is done by a small tractor that stretches the roll of the mulching material from one end of the field to the other.

The mulch is installed firmly without any pegs to keep the plastic sheet in place. And installation is fast. It takes only four hours to finish installing the plastic mulch on one hectare using the Agritecno Yazaki machine. It is done by two workers and it is much cheaper than when manual labor is used.

In the past year, ATISCO has been contracted by commercial vegetable farmers in Batangas to rotavate and mulch their vegetable fields. And the total cost, excluding the cost of plastic materials, is P15,000 per hectare. It means a saving of P20,000 per hectare on the part of the commercial vegetable farmer, according to Dante Delima.

Mulched sweet pepper inside a greenhouse.
Mulched sweet pepper inside a greenhouse.
He pointed out that when the placement of the mulch is by machine, only two workers are needed. If installation is done manually by several workers, it will take much longer to finish the job and the owner also has to provide meals and snacks to the laborers. These cost money, too.

Watermelon is also plastic-mulched.
Watermelon is also plastic-mulched.
VERY IMPORTANT TIP – Toto Barcelona has a very important advice for those who mulch their plants with plastic. During rotavation, adequate organic fertilizer should be incorporated in the soil. It could be processed organic fertilizer like Durabloom, vermicast and the like. Depending on the kind of crop, chemical fertilizer could also be applied before installing the plastic mulch.

So there you are. There is cheaper and more efficient means of installing your plastic mulch in the field.

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4 thoughts on “PLASTIC MULCHING MADE EASY & CHEAPER

  1. hi sir, i am based in san pablo city, can i have the contact number of Agritecno and harbest nearest to my place.

    thank you

    1. Please contact Dante Delima re plastic mulcher at 0917-844-4295. Toto Barcelona of Harbest Agribusiness can be contacted at 0917-520-3260. Zac Sarian, God bless you Erlene.

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