Mulching vs Spraying: Which Farming Method is More Effective?
Mulching your farm can reduce your need to use chemical sprays by improving soil health and reducing pests
What is Spraying?
‘Spraying’ refers to method used by farmers to protect their crops from pests. They spray chemical insecticides, herbicides, and fungicides in a controlled and focused process.
Farmers don’t have a barrel labeled ‘pesticides’ that goes on anything and everything. Farmers use specific chemicals labeled for very specific uses and at very specific amounts. The products they use for crop protection vary depending on crop, soil, crop rotation, current condition of the crop, pests, and moisture. The choices they make regarding what to spray are careful, calculated, and measured out.
“We are a third-generation farm and want to continue striving to preserve the land quality for our future generations. This wouldn’t be possible if we abused the resources allowed to us. If farmers were to overuse things such as crop protection products, this could hurt their land. Bad, toxic, or depleted soil doesn’t grow crops. We rely on the health and safety of our land in order to continue farming each year,” says Farmer Dewey Rohrich.
Farmers spray to mitigate crop damage caused by pests. A pest is any biological organism, including weeds, pathogens, and arthropods, that interferes with the production of crops affecting quality and/or yield. Insect pests can have large and irreversible effects on crops and yields, impacting consumers through higher crop prices.
Farmers utilise crop protection products (herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, etc.) to help control the thousands of weed species, harmful insects, and plant diseases that can afflict crops. This is a challenge farmers face each growing season.
Depending on climate, environment, and geographical location, each farm has different crop-protection needs. That means different spraying products are used by farmers in different locations.
Pesticides work in many different ways by affecting their target, whether it be a weed, pest, or disease. The different ways that pesticides work and are classified are known as ‘modes of action’. Farmers only utilise the modes of action they need for any given situation. Oftentimes farmers will consult professional agronomists who make recommendations or suggestions.
The range of dangers farmers must protect their crops from includes more than just weeds. There are over 500,000 insect species that feed on growing green plants; most are butterflies, moths, beetles and sucking insects. And there are other pests that cause harm while crops are being stored or transported.
Chemical sprays that tackle the hazards include: Algicides (algae), Antimicrobials (bacteria and viruses), Biocides (microorganisms), Miticides (mites), Fungicides (fungi), Insecticides (insects), Nematicides (nematodes), and Rodenticides (mice and rodents).
What does mulch do?
Mulch is organic material placed on the surface of the soil. Create your own mulch for free using a Muthing Mulching Mower. By mowing fields in the crop off-season or trimming stubble after a harvest you generate your own mulch. The Muthing Mulching Mower evenly distributes mulch behind it as it cuts.
Mulching puts a protective layer on your soil, reducing evaporation, and improving moisture retention. Moist soil is less prone to erosion and weed growth.
By retaining moisture in the soil, mulch helps to regulate soil temperature. This provides the ideal habitat for earthworms and other organisms such as ground beetles and centipedes. Earthworms help to decompose the mulch, adding nutrients to the soil, whilst ground beetles and centipedes contribute to pest control.
Grass’ energy stores are held close to their roots. Cutting the stalks of grass does not sacrifice this energy. As the mulch on the surface of the freshly cut grass serves as feed for the grass to regrow, the energy stores are in effect heightened. Therefore, if you are employing a pasture rotation strategy for grazing animals or crops, you can be assured that each time you return to a resting pasture it will be as viable as before.
Like a shield, mulch protects soil from heavy rain and filters water and runoff. Mulch absorbs water content and stabilises soil moisture content over time.
Can mulch reduce your need for spraying?
Mulching your farm can reduce your need to use chemical sprays by improving soil health and limiting pests.
As above, mulch assists in preventing weed growth through physical and chemical means. Mulch provides a physical layer above the soil that stops weed seeds from falling onto fertile soil. If weed seeds can’t reach the soil, they can’t grow. Also, mulch regulates moisture and temperature, reducing the ideal weed-growing climate.
Also, as above, mulch encourages earthworms and ground beetles that patrol your soil and guard it against pests. By creating a happy habitat for worms and beetles you protect your soil from other harmful insects. Your earthy guardians will eat the invading pests!
Mulch regenerates soil and improves soil health by adding nutrients. Healthy soil is less likely to grow fungus or sustain pests. Therefore, by using mulch on your farm you can reduce your need for chemical sprays.
Muthing Mulching Mowers
Contact Southern Cross Ag Machinery for information about our range of Muthing Mulching Mowers – German quality at its best! Versatility, innovation and durability. You will love your new equipment from Southern Cross Ag Machinery for its reliable engineering, top of the range efficiency, and guaranteed results.
Muthing Mowers have a range of benefits that will assist you with mulching your land. These benefits include (but are not limited to):
- The use of Qst/E steel which reduces mulcher weight by approximately 15% while also increasing machine strength. This results in: longer machine life, reduction in Mulcher body cracks and fuel consumption, the possible use of smaller tractors with lower HP using a larger working width Mulcher.
- Specially formed Mulcher body allows for smoother flow of shredded material, reduction in fuel costs and longer life.
- Gearboxes with integrated over-run clutch
- Patented, removable and segmented shredding bars “Shark Fin” reduces maintenance and service costs.
- High tempered spring steel one-way protection flaps in front of mulcher provides protection against stones and foreign objects.
- Self-cleaning roller facilitated by rotating hammers or shackle flails means no “push up” of cut materials and no sticking of grass, straw or stubble to roller.
- Mulched material is spread evenly behind roller leaving no windrows of mulched material.
Reduce your use of sprays and invest in a Muthing Mulcher today. Choose from the large range of German Muthing Mulchers; call us on (02) 4932-3011 to discuss which model suits your requirements, we will be more than happy to assist.