The use of biodegradable mulching on industry tomatoes in northern Italy
Italy is one of the main producers of processing tomatoes in the world; about half of this production is located in northern Italy. AOP CIO started in 2013 to use biodegradable mulch film, as a tool to improve the sustainability of processing tomatoes cultivations. The main agronomical goals of CIO for the introduction of biodegradable mulch films in processing tomatoes were: chemical herbicides reduction; increase early ripening; low temperatures protection mainly in the early developing stages; water usage optimizing. The main results on the use of this innovative technique are listed below: a) the bio-mulching technique is allowed for the cultivation of processing tomato; b) biodegradable mulch films are effective in controlling the weeds on the row; c) it is possible to cultivate processing tomato without chemical herbicide, integrating biodegradable mulch films on the row and mechanical weeding between the rows; d) the biodegradable mulches have shown to protect the plants from low temperature in the first phase of development, so is possible to anticipate either transplanting and harvesting date; e) reduction of the irrigation water can be an achievable goal (a higher level of humidity under the mulch film, compared to bare soil, has been observed thanks to the use of specific probes put in the soil); f) a better development of the roots under biodegradable mulch films has been observed, this could make the plants more resistant to environmental stresses; g) the total yield obtained by mulched plants was higher compared to the traditional technique; also the quality of the crop obtained was better (either higher sugar content and percentage of marketable fruits) probably due to a more concentrate period of ripening; h) finally, no fragments of biodegradable mulch films were found in the harvested products or in the soils where the mulches have been used.
Dreni, M. (2019). The use of biodegradable mulching on industry tomatoes in northern Italy. Acta Hortic. 1252, 57-68
processing tomatoes, mulch, biodegradable film, water efficiency, yields, mechanical weeding, sustainability