RESEARCH PAPER
Response of plantain to mulch on a tropical Ultisol.
Part II. Effect of different mulching materials on soil hydrological properties
 
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1
College of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine, Imo State University, P.M.B. 2000, Okigwe, Nigeria
2
Department oj Geography, University of Port Harcourt, P.M.B. 5323, Port Harcourt, Nigeria
3
IITA, High Rainfall Substation, Onne, Port Harcourt, Nigeria
Publication date: 2020-09-25
 
Int. Agrophys. 1992, 6(3-4): 145–152
 
ABSTRACT
The research reported here compares the effects of five different mulches and an unmulched control on water infiltrability, moisture content profiles and variation of soil moisture suction on an Ultisol under plantain in southeastern Nigeria. The mulch treatments were elephant grass, plastic, elephant grass on plastic, plastic on elephant grass, wood shavings and unmulched control. At 5 months after planting (MAP), wood shavings, elephant grass on plastic and elephant grass treatments increased water infiltrability by 128%, 40% and 15% respectively, in comparison with the unmulched treatment. Plastic on elephant grass and plastic mulches decreased water infiltrability by 14% and 28%. Mulching effect on infiltrability at 10 MAP followed the same trend as at 5 MAP; however, lower inflltrability values were measured at 10 MAP than at 5 MAP. Lower infiltrability values were also measured at 15 MAP than at 5 MAP. Soil moisture content measured over a period of one year was higher under elephant grass and wood shavings mulches than under other mulch treatments. Moisture content measured on 7 January 1988 (17 MAP) was highest under elephant grass and lowest under unmulched treatment at the 0-60 cm depth. Below the 60 cm depth, there was no difference in moisture content among treatments. During the dry season, the exposed surface of unmulched plot experienced higher moisture stresses due to evaporation than the mulched treatments. Within row moisture suction measured at 10 and 30 cm depths was lowest under elephant grass mulch, while between row suction at 10 cm depth was lowest under wood shavings mulch than other treatments. Plastic mulch alone and in combination with elephant grass had higher suction than other mulch treatments, during most of the period of measurement.
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