The Purpose of Mulching

Description:

1.  CONTROLS WEEDS

– suffocates weeds

– saves labor time and money

– reduces competition for water and nutrients

– spares roots near soil surface, which are often damaged by cultivation.

2.  MODERATES SOIL MOISTURE &TEMPERATURE FLUCTUATIONS

– keeps the soil moist by reducing evaporation and transpiration from weeds

– buffers seasonal temperature changes, soil stays warmer at night and in the fall, cooler during the day, and in the summer

– winter mulch decreases frost heave
CAUTION: Mulching slows soil warming in the spring, so don’t put on too early, especially on crops that like warmth.

3.  IMPROVES SOIL FERTILITY ANDSTRUCTURE

– adds nutrients as it decomposes although it may tie up nitrogen temporarily if high in carbon

– reduces leaching losses and top soil loss by wind action and rain running off the surface

– prevents soil compaction

– encourages earthworms, whose burrows aerate and drain soil

– organic matter improves soil structure

– encourages microbial growth; CO2  evolved by microbes may be important in stimulating plant growth

Source:  Ecological Agriculture Project Publication 64