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What is Mulching and why is it so important

The soil in the forest is never exposed. It is totally covered with either small plants (Under huge trees) or by dry leaves and plant remains. This has a significant advantage in regenerating the soil and balancing the local ecosystem. This top cover layer is called "Mulch". If the soil is covered with small height alive plants it's called "Live Mulching" and if it is covered with dried matter (Such as dry leaves and dried stems or branches) then the type of mulching is called "Straw mulching".

We implement both types of these mulching in Kashi Farms. Firstly, "Live mulching" is implemented in form of intercropping. These intercrops are chosen carefully such that they symbiotically support the growth and health of the main crop. As we can see in image

Live mulching
Groundnut taken as inter-crop between sugarcane

Live mulching in sugarcane plantation is achieved by having groundnut as intercrop. Sugarcane is a monocot crop and does not have the ability to fix nitrogen itself. Groundnut plant, on other hand, fixes the required nitrogen in the soil. It also stays low and does not interfere in the growth of sugarcane. It covers the land preventing excess water from evaporating and creates a micro-climate for soil organisms to flourish. additionally, sugarcane provides a good place for birds to sit on. These birds feed on pests that harm groundnut plants. This way both these crops grow together benefiting each other.

The next one is "straw mulching". At Kashi Farms no trash is burnt post-harvest. We use our trash

Straw Mulching
Sugarcane trash used as mulch

in form of straw Mulch as shown in the image. Numerous microbes and earthworms take shelter below this straw mulch. They carry out their life processes and in turn nourish and enrich the soil. Straw Mulch also prevents excess water from evaporating, it keeps the surface temperature stable and avoids unwanted weeds from growing and competing with main crop. Note that Plants grow taking up nutrients from the Earth and Straw Mulching is the only way to restore it back to the soil.

So implementing mulching is a very important step in Natural Farming, it definitely is scientific and certainly gives positive results in yield, soil carbon restoration and abating carbon emissions.

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