Living Mulch - Types


In the tropics, it is common to seed tree crops with living mulches such as legume covers in oil palm plantations, coconut and rubber (Watson 1989).

In Mexico, legumes used traditionally as living mulches were tested as nematode and weed suppressors. The mulches included velvetbean (Mucuna pruriens) jackbean (Canavalia ensiformis), jumbiebean (Leucaena leucocephala) and wild tamarindo (Lysiloma latisiliquum). Aqueous extract of Velvetbean reduced the gall index of Meloidogyne incognita in the roots of tomato, but suppressed tomato rooting as well. In addition, Velvetbean suppressed the radical growth of the local weeds Alegria (Amaranthus hypochondriacus) by 66% and Barnyardgrass (Echinochloa crus-galli) by 26.5%.

Nicholson and Wien (1983) suggested the use of short turfgrasses and clovers as living mulches to improve the resistance soil compaction. These authors established Smooth Meadow-grass (Poa pratensis) and white clover (Trifolium repens) as living mulches since they did not caused reduction of yield corn (the accompanying main crop).

In one study, chewing fescue or red fescue (Festuca rubra) and ladino clover (Trifolium repens) were effective living mulches for controlling weed growth. Unfortunately, these cover crops also competed with corn for water which was particularly problematic during a dry period. The possibility of using ladino clover (Trifolium repens) as a potential living mulch was also mentioned; however, this clover was difficult to kill with herbicides in winter.

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