Effects of vegetative mulches on growth of indigenous crops in the Kingdom of Tonga uri icon

abstract

  • As in many areas of the developing world, intensification of agriculture in Tonga, and other PacificIslands, has put increased pressure on the soil resource. Two experiments were conducted to evaluatethe effect of mulch on the growth and yield of two important food and fibre crops. The first wasconducted on sloping land to evaluate the effect of guinea grass (Megathyrsus maximus) mulch andhedgerows on taro (Colocasia esculenta (L.) Schott) yield, and in controlling soil erosion. The secondcompared the response of paper mulberry (Broussonetia papyrifera (L) Ventenot) to differentmanagement regimes of a grass fallow. Thick vegetative mulch increased taro corm yield by 81% andreduced soil loss by 50% compared to local farmer practice, and the soil loss from taro with mulchwas comparable to the perennial cash hedgerow treatment. Mulch increased paper mulberry barkyield by 30% compared to the non-mulch control. Comparative economic analysis showed thatincreased net profit in the mulched treatments compared to the non-mulched control was T$2660/hafor taro and T$12 108/ha for paper mulberry. Considering that mulch is readily available to manyfarmers throughout the Pacific Islands and elsewhere in the tropics, it is recommended as asustainable practice for crop production

publication date

  • 2018
  • 2018