Friday, April 3, 2009

Growing Pechay (Brassica Rapa) in Different Organic Mulches

Abstract

The study entitled “Growing Pechay (Brassica rapa) on Different Organic Mulches” was conceived to help vegetable growers maximize their production. Specifically this aimed to lessen water loss, conserve soil moisture, prevents weed growth and enhances soil nutrients.
The procedure includes the following: preparation for pechay seedling, seeding, transplanting, application of mulches and data collection through observation.
There were 5 set-ups made. These include set-ups for coarse sawdust; fine sawdust, peanut shells/pods, ipil-ipil pods and the last set-up serve as the control (no mulch added). In each set-up, there were three replicates. The following variables were controlled during the experiment: the type of pots, type of soil, the amount of mulches, the amount of sunlight, the time of watering and the amount of water applied.
Observations were done everyday. Visual/ocular observation on soil moisture was done because soil moisture detector was not available.
Based on the actual results of the study, the following conclusion is drawn:
The applications of organic mulches lessen water loss, conserve soil moisture and prevent weed growth. But the effect of the mulches to the growth of pechay plants in this study did not arrive with a valid conclusion because of some intervening factors like unpredictable weather changes and the presence of pechay diseases due to pest infestation.
The researchers acknowledge the weaknesses of the study made thus the following suggestions are highly noted:

Chapter I
Introduction

Background of the study

The researchers plan to find materials which are possible as mulches since mulching is one of the simplest and most convenient practices you can do when it comes to planting. It is used to minimize the evaporation rate of water in plants. This kind of system helps in conserving water and it prevents weed growth.
Materials which are normally thrown like ipil-ipil pods, sawdust and peanut shells are used in this research to see if the following materials are feasible mulches. Since they are organic, they can also be considered as a soil enhancer.

Statement of the Problem

The study intends to find out the feasibility of growing pechay on different organic mulches.
Specifically, this study attempts to answer the following questions:

1.) Are the following materials (ipil-ipil pods, sawdust and peanut shells) feasible as mulches?

2.) Is there any difference between the growth of pechay with organic mulches and the growth of pechay plants without mulch?


Significance of the Study

Using mulch has great advantages. It conserves moisture which means frequent watering is not necessary anymore. It prevents the growth of weeds as well as erosion of the soil. Much more it can be become a soil enhancer too.
These organic mulches are accessible to gardeners not only to those who grow vegetables but it can also be made available to ornamental growers since all of these materials are found in the locality.

Scope and Limitation of the Study

The researchers only observed the feasibility of the following materials: ipil-ipil pods, sawdust and peanuts shells. No other plants beside pechay plants are being observed in this research. They simply determined the number of their leaves and soil moisture. The study does not include any commercial mulch to be compared to the tested mulches. Visual/ ocular observation on soil moisture was only done because of the unavailability of soil moisture detector. Soil analysis was not taken prior to the application of the mulches.

Definition of Terms

· Mulch - simply a protective layer of a material that is spread on top of the soil. It prevents the soil from erosion, conserves water and prevent weed growth

· Organic mulches – these refer to the fine and course saw dust; ipil-ipil pods and peanut shell/pod

· Ipil-ipil– a tree or shrub with the scientific name Leucaena leucocephala.

· Ipil-ipil pods – green (when young) to brown (upon maturity) outer-covering of ipil-ipil seeds

· Sawdust - the small particles of wood or other material that fall from an object being sawed. In this study, it includes fine and course sawdust.

· Peanut - the edible, nutlike, oily seed of this plant, used for food and as a source of oil. Its scientific name is Arachis hypogaea Linn.

· Peanut shell/pods-brown outer-covering of peanut kernel

· Pechay – is a cabbage and one of the most known vegetables in the Philippines with the scientific name of Brassica rapa.



Chapter II
Review of Related Literature

Mulching has always been a great help for farmers and gardeners. It reduces labor required in cultivation, since emerging and small weeds perish under their dark barrier. Therefore, mulching reduces the need for tillage and the use of weed-control chemicals. Water is conserved because mulches reduce the evaporation of soil moisture by lowering the soil temperature. Water absorption by a mulched soil is greater than that of an unmulched soil. Mulch also prevents the formation of soil crusts. In addition, soil loss from heavy rain and wind is decreased. In effect, mulches are excellent conservation agents.

Nowadays, many farmers use mulches to plant vegetables. Vegetables like peppers, tomatoes, squash, eggplant and others are usually the ones being mulched. Pechay plants are also being mulched since it develops best during cool weather. Thus, it needs moisture and frequent watering. If it is being mulched, farmers can save because they don’t have to water them everyday (Robert R. Westerfiel; http://pubs.caes.uga.edu/caespubs/horticulture/veg-mulch.html)

Mulches can either be organic such as grass clippings, straw, bark chips, and similar materials - or inorganic such as stones, brick chips, and plastic. Both organic and inorganic mulches have numerous benefits.

Inorganic mulches have their place in certain landscapes; they lack the soil improving properties of organic mulches. Inorganic mulches, because of their permanence, may be difficult to remove if you decide to change your garden plans at a later date.

While organic mulches improve the condition of the soil. As these mulches slowly decompose, they provide organic matter which helps keep the soil loose. This improves root growth, increases the infiltration of water, and also improves the water-holding capacity of the soil. Organic matter is a source of plant nutrients and provides an ideal environment for earthworms and other beneficial soil organisms (http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/FEATURE/backyard/mulching.html).

A list of mulching materials follows, with specific emphasis on advantages and disadvantages.

Bark: Small pieces of bark are preferred over large chunks. Bark mulches vary, but all are attractive, durable and suitable for vegetable gardens. The high carbon-to-nitrogen ratio of bark requires prior application of nitrogen fertilizer.

Cocoa shells: Available in some areas of Georgia. These are brown, light, easy-to-handle and relatively noncombustible. Cocoa shells have some value as a fertilizer and resist blowing in the wind. Their high potash content harms some plants, so they should not be applied to a depth greater than 2 inches. Cocoa shells may have an offensive odor.

Coffee grounds: Coffee grounds cake badly; a depth of 1 inch is recommended. Coffee grounds contain some nitrogen.

Compost: An especially good mulch, compost has fertilizer value and soil-like appearance. Finished compost (humus) is also a good organic amendment for tilling into the soil after the growing season ends.

Corn cobs: Ground corn cobs are a good mulch. Some find their light color objectionable. Other uses for ground corn cobs, such as in feeds and mash, tend to limit the supply for mulching.

Leaves: Leaves are free, readily available in many areas, release some nutrients upon decomposition and spread easily. However, they have a tendency to form a soggy, impenetrable mat. This problem can be overcome by mixing leaves with fluffy materials, such as hay or straw, or by shredding the leaves with a lawn mower.

Newspaper: This is certainly readily available and economical but somewhat difficult to apply. The high carbon-to-nitrogen ratio necessitates the prior application of nitrogen fertilizer. A good use for newspaper is as an undermulch; that is, place two to three sheets under a thin layer of an attractive, more expensive mulch.

Peanut shells: (Not recommended) These are attractive and easy to apply. Peanut shells also contain nitrogen and are long-lasting. However, peanut shells are carriers of Sclerotium rotfsii, also known by the common names of Southern blight and white mold, which can be a major problem in the garden. Peanut hulls may also be infested with nematodes and nutsedge seeds and/or tubers. At the present time, peanut hulls are not recommended as a mulch.

Peat moss: This mulch is attractive and easy to handle but somewhat expensive. Dry peat moss requires considerable time and water to become moist, so it should be applied only to a 3-inch or less depth and avoided in areas subject to drought. Its acidic pH makes it especially desirable for acid-loving plants.

Pine needles: These have an aesthetics appeal and are not prone to forming a soggy mat as are leaves. They are especially good for acid-loving plants.

Polyethylene film: This is one of the few mulches that is readily available and economical enough to be used on larger-scale commercial applications. Polyethylene allows passage of gases such as nitrogen, oxygen and carbon dioxide. Holes or slits facilitate the planting of seeds or plants and water entry. It can last several years if undamaged by machinery. Usually, it is used as black film. Clear film is sometimes used, but it offers limited weed control (unless herbicide is applied before mulching), since light passes through it. Earlier crops can be produced with the clear and, to a lesser degree, black plastic mulch because of the warming of the soil.

Straw/hay: These materials are lightweight and easy to apply, but their appearance restricts their application mostly to vegetable gardens. They are used more frequently as a winter mulch for protection. They are not long-lasting and frequently contain weed seeds. Coastal Bermuda hay is propagated vegetatively and is an excellent hay mulch.

Sawdust: Aged or partially rotted sawdust makes a satisfactory mulch that lasts a long time. Since it is prone to caking and has a high carbon-to-nitrogen ratio, apply it only 2 inches deep after adding nitrogen fertilizer to the soil.

Wood chips: Since these are moderately priced or free, attractive, readily available and easy to apply, they make an excellent mulch. However, their high carbon-to-nitrogen ratio requires an application of nitrogen fertilizer. Wood chips can last about two years. Like bark mulch, woodchips can be a vector for termites

(http://pubs.caes.uga.edu/caespubs/horticulture/veg-mulch.html).

. One of the vegetables that need high soil moisture content is the Pechay. And because of this, the researchers tested the following organic mulches namely the ipil-ipil pods, peanut shell, course and fine sawdust to Pechay.

Pechay (Pak Choi) is a cabbage. It is one of the most known vegetables in the Philippines. It is also known as one of the oldest green vegetables in Asia. The Pechay differs in many aspects from other (for instance European) cabbages. The leaves of the Pechay vary in length from 10 to 30 cm. The leaves are green and mild flavoured and less crisp than other cabbages (http://www.philippines.hvu.nl/vegetables3.htm)




Chapter III
Methodology

Materials:
The following materials were prepared and gathered:

· pechay seeds

· Seedpots

· Rubber pots of the same size

· Garden soil

· Coarse and fine sawdust

· Ipil-ipil pods

· Peanut shells

· Garden shovel

· Scissors

· Weighing scale

· Beakers

· Paper labels


Germination of Pechay Seeds
Pechays seeds were planted in a seed pots and were watered daily. Then after a week of germination, the healthy ones were transferred in separate rubberized pots.

Preparation of Mulches
The different mulches, namely: ipil-ipil pods, coarse and fine sawdust and peanut shells, were exposed to the sun until they were thoroughly dried. Then, the dried ipi-ipil and peanut pods were gnashed into smaller pieces. Finally, the different mulches were weighed 25 grams ready for application.

Application of Mulches
The following are the mixtures of each set-ups:
Set Up A: 3 pechay plants were applied 25 grams each with coarse sawdust
Set Up B: 3 pechay plants were applied 25 grams each with fine sawdust
Set Up C: 3 pechay plants were applied 25 grams each with gnashed ipil-ipil pods
Set Up D: 3 pechay plants were applied 25 grams each with gnashed peanut shells
Set Up E: 3 pechay plants weren’t applied any mulching agent

Observation
All set ups were observed for 4 weeks. Set ups A, B, C and D were watered every after three days during rainy days while during sunny days; they are watered every other day. Set up E was watered every day. All the set ups were watered at 8 o’clock in the morning with 100 ml of water each. Data collection was done every day.


Chapter IV

Results and Discussion

In this chapter, the results of the experiments done will be shown and furthermore, discussions will follow.

Table 1. Number of Leaves

Set Ups

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

Pechay plants with coarse sawdust

5

4

5

6

Pechay plants with dried peanut shells

4

5

6

8

Pechay plants with dried ipil-ipil pods

3

3

6

7

Pechay plants with fine sawdust

5

4

6

7

Pechay plants with no mulch

3

5

5

5

In Table 1, the number of leaves was being observed and counted every week. On week 1, the researchers observed that the pechay plants with coarse and fine sawdust sprouted the most number of leaves compared to the other set ups. Due to intervening factors such as unpredictable weather conditions and pests, the researchers observed on week 2 that most of the set ups’ number of leaves decreased and withered. On the last 2 weeks of observation, most of the set ups sprouted more leaves especially peanut shells. However, blight and white mold appeared on the leaves of the pechay plants. The researchers did not attempt to apply any form of pesticides so as not to alter the results of the study. Since the Pechay plants are not harvested yet, so the final result which is the weight is not yet taken.

Everyday, the soil was observed if it is dry, fair or wet. The observation done was just visual or ocular since the researchers could not avail any soil detector that could determine the specific soil moisture in each set-up. The observations done were recorded (please refer to Table 2).


Week

Day

Set Ups

Pechay plants with coarse sawdust

Pechay plants with fine sawdust

Pechay plants with dried ipil-ipil pods

Pechay plants with dried peanut shells

Pechay plants with no mulch

1

1

wet

wet

wet

wet

fair

2

wet

wet

wet

wet

fair

3

wet

wet

wet

wet

fair

4

wet

wet

wet

wet

fair

5

wet

wet

wet

wet

fair

6

wet

wet

wet

wet

fair

7

wet

wet

wet

wet

fair

2

8

wet

wet

wet

wet

wet

9

wet

wet

wet

wet

wet

10

wet

wet

wet

wet

wet

11

wet

wet

wet

wet

wet

12

wet

wet

wet

wet

wet

13

wet

wet

wet

wet

wet

14

wet

wet

wet

wet

wet

3

15

wet

wet

wet

wet

fair

16

wet

wet

wet

wet

fair

17

wet

wet

wet

wet

fair

18

wet

wet

wet

wet

fair

19

wet

wet

wet

wet

fair

20

wet

wet

wet

wet

fair

21

wet

wet

wet

wet

fair

4

22

wet

wet

wet

wet

fair

23

wet

wet

wet

wet

fair

24

wet

wet

wet

wet

fair

25

wet

wet

wet

wet

fair

26

wet

wet

wet

wet

fair

27

wet

wet

wet

wet

fair


In Table 2, the researchers observed that all the set ups with mulches have showed low evaporation rate or lessen water loss and the soil remained humid compared to set up without mulch. Only then in week 2, since that was during rainy season, all of the set ups were humid.


Chapter V

Conclusion and Recommendation

Conclusion

The researchers conclude that the applications of organic mulches can lessen water loss, conserve soil moisture and reduce weed growth. But the effect of mulches to the growth of pechay plants, the experiments done did not arrive with a valid conclusion because some of intervening factors like unpredictable weather changes and the presence of pechay pests and molds.

Recommendation

The researchers acknowledge the weaknesses of the study made thus the following suggestions are highly noted:

1. Soil detector must be used in observing soil moisture;

2. Soil analysis must be done before mulching and after harvest;

3. Other vegetables must be tested with these mulches; and

4. More replicates must be used to validate the results obtained.

References

Robert R. Westerfield , Extension Horticulturist http://pubs.caes.uga.edu/caespubs/horticulture/veg-mulch.html

United States Department of Agriculture

Natural Resources Conservation Service

http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/FEATURE/backyard/mulching.html

The Philippines: HOGESCHOOL UTRECHT

http://www.philippines.hvu.nl/vegetables3.htm

Growing Chinese Cabbage

http://www.farminfo.org/garden/chinese.htm

DOST AGROFORESTRY INFORMATION NETWORK

http://www.pcarrd.dost.gov.ph/cin/AFIN/how%20to%20grow%20upland%20food%20crops.htm


ACKNOWKLEDGEMENT


The researchers are indebted to the following:

Ø Xavier University, College of Agriculture

Ø Agribusiness Sector

Ø Participating Schools

Ø and the MOGCHS Family

To all of you, our salute for you give us an unforgettable learning experience.

The Researchers


APPENDIX A


Measurements of the Number of Leaves per Pechay Plant (3 replicates in each set-ups)

Set Ups

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

1

2

3

1

2

3

1

2

3

1

2

3

Pechay plants with coarse sawdust

4

5

6

3

4

5

3

5

7

4

5

8

Pechay plants with dried peanut shells

4

4

5

5

5

3

6

8

4

8

10

6

Pechay plants with dried ipil-ipil pods

3

3

4

2

3

3

5

6

8

7

7

8

Pechay plants with fine sawdust

4

4

6

4

3

5

6

4

8

8

5

10

Pechay plants with no mulch

3

3

4

4

4

6

7

4

4

9

5

2


2 comments:

b said...

of all plants, may i know why you used pechay?

rea tomagan said...

Hello po, Can we use your I.P. as our I.P.? I hope you will not think of it as plagiarism. Thank you!
please..