The role of mulching materials on Lactuca sativa production - Brazil case study

P. Fortes Neto, G. Souza, N. Fortes, A. Saraiva, R. Costa, E. Duarte
In Brazil, the commonly used mulches in lettuce production are vegetable scraps or polyethylene film. In opposition, the use of biodegradable mulch films is increasing in Europe due to environmental problems associated to the conventional ones. Few studies regarding the application of these new mulches on horticulture crops in Brazil have been reported, which is a great barrier for the acceptance by producers. The main objective of this study was to fulfill this lack of knowledge, by the evaluation of the performance of different mulches on lettuce production. For this purpose we followed, throughout lettuce production cycle, the soil temperature, water volume and nitrogen content, mulch durability and deterioration, weed suppression, and crop yield. A full-scale field experiment was set up in the Taubate University Campus, to evaluate the suitability of three modalities for mulching application in lettuce production in comparison with bare soil. The experimental design used were randomized blocks with five replicates of all the treatments: (T1) bare soil, (T2) cover with rice husk, (T3) cover with polyethylene film and (T4) cover with biodegradable film. The variety used was crispa, with a cycle of 50 days and starting after the transplantation occurred on September 22, 2014. From results obtained, we observed that soil temperature and water volume content were higher on film modalities (T3 and T4). Regarding nitrogen soil content we observed that the lowest value was achieved on T2 modality. As expected, the weed control was higher in film modalities and the mulch films mechanical properties were kept along the crop cycle. Regarding average production of each modality, the highest values were obtained with T4 with 945 g plant‑1 followed by T3 with 823 g plant‑1, T2 with 733 g plant‑1, and T1 with 575 g plant‑1, respectively. Overall, we concluded that biodegradable mulch film, compared to polyethylene and rice husk, was more effective.
Fortes Neto, P., Souza, G., Fortes, N., Saraiva, A., Costa, R. and Duarte, E. (2019). The role of mulching materials on Lactuca sativa production - Brazil case study. Acta Hortic. 1242, 139-146
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2019.1242.19
Lactuca sativa production, weed control, mulching, biodegradable film, sustainable agriculture

Acta Horticulturae