The process involves the use of plastic sheets to cover the soil and allow crops to grow through slits on the sheets.
Siliguri's cucumber cultivators have taken up this preventive measure to reduce losses caused by soil erosion, stagnation of rain water and extreme weather conditions.
Bidhan Chandra Bagchi, a farmer, said the plastic sheets have been imported from Thailand and don't get heated up by the rays of the sun.
"Normal plastic gets heated up by the sun rays, and hence, no plant can survive if covered with such plastic. But these plastic sheets from Thailand are so advanced, that no matter how much they are scorched by the sun's rays, temperatures don't rise. These sheets also prevent wastage of manure. Whenever we add manure to the soil, it is completely used by the plant because of these sheets. It also prevents rotting of roots due to water stagnation during the monsoon season. Thus, it prevents crop damage," he said.
The method of mulching, though known to farmers in Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Punjab, is still an unknown technique to most cultivators, who are often troubled by soil erosion, the growth of weeds around crops and the extreme climate in the country.
The average longevity of mulching sheets is three years.
The methodology of mulching was invented during the 1950s in Taiwan. But poly mulching was discovered in Kentucky of United States of America.
In the later half of the 19th century, the method was popularised across Japan, China, Thailand, and Vietnam. It is also greatly used in the European nations. In India, it was introduced only in the early 90s.
--ANI (Posted on 21-09-2013)