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ISHS Acta Horticulturae 1354: III International Organic Fruit Symposium and I International Organic Vegetable Symposium

Use of an organic mulching film for intra-row weed management in a young high-density olive orchard

Authors:   E.M. Lodolini, A. Assirelli, V. Giorgi, M. Zucchini, S. Crescenzi, A. de Iucidibus, F. Straccia, D. Neri
Keywords:   weed control, biodegradable material, Mater-Bi, vegetative growth, root growth, Olea europaea
DOI:   10.17660/ActaHortic.2022.1354.5
Weed competition along the row must be prevented during the early stages after planting to speed olive vegetative growth and the onset of fruit production. The use of organic materials such as bark, wood chips, leaves, grass clippings, sawdust, plant hulls, crop residues and weeds removed from the field could be alternative option to avoid mechanical weeding which may induce risk of soil erosion. These raw materials carry out an effective mulching action before the complete biodegradation, but their management is expensive in terms of labor request and farm organization. On the other hand, easy-to-be-applied degradable mulching films are now available for organic horticulture. This study compared an organic mulching film (OMF) placed along the row of a young high-density olive orchard (1,250 trees ha‑1) to a mechanical weeding in order to evaluate the effects on weed development, canopy and root growth of the trees and on soil temperature and moisture. Perforated and non-perforated OMF were placed in July and November 2020, whereas a periodical mechanical weeding was executed in the control row. Weed coverage did not differ between perforated and not-perforated OMF within the same date and resulted higher (around 80%) for the OMFs set down in summer 2020 and lower (12%) for those placed in autumn 2020 when compared to control in April 2021. The growth of the young olive trees was not affected by the treatments in the first year of trial, but the seasonal increase of trunk cross sectional area was lower for control plants. Root density, evaluated in April 2021, showed lower values under the OMFs compared to the control and no differences were found between OMF types and placement dates. The use of organic mulching films during the early stages after planting seems to be an interesting alternative to periodical intra-row mechanical weed control.

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