• Growers Reduce Water Usage With Mulch - Wednesday, November 19, 2014 at

  • With California experiencing its third consecutive year of drought, growers are seeking ways to increase water use efficiency. One way is to introduce mulch into the growing process say experts at Agromin, an Oxnard-based manufacturer of earth-friendly organic compost products used on farmland and landscapes.

                "More growers are finding that by applying a protective barrier of slowly decomposing organic material such as mulch around plants and trees, they can grow their crops using less water," says Bill Camarillo, Agromin CEO.

    Mulch benefits include:

    --retains soil moisture, reduces water use
    --adds and retains soil nutrients including nitrogen
    --improves soil structure and prevents soil "crusting," allowing water to penetrate deeper into the soil
    --reduces weeds and controls grass growth
    --regulates soil temperature—keeps roots cooler in extreme heat and protects from cold-weather injury
    --protects trees trunks from harvesting and maintenance equipment
    --reduces erosion and runoff
    --reduces the need for pesticides

                "There is no easy solution to fight the effects of the drought--other than a consistent rain," says Camarillo, "but using organic mulch is one simple approach that produces a multitude of benefits in addition to saving water."

                Agromin processes yard trimmings from homes and businesses collected throughout Southern California. It uses a natural process to turn this organic material into mulch and other soil amendments. The mulch is then redistributed back into the soil. Agromin's largest customers are in agriculture.

                Growers have been using mulch in their fields and orchards for years, but the drought has brought its advantages to the forefront. A Ventura County Resource Conservation District and U.S. Cooperative Extension multi-year study found that using mulch made from municipal yard trimmings on commercial citrus orchards reduced evaporation by keeping moisture in the soil, improved water infiltration by reducing surface sealing from rain and irrigation impact and reduced soil erosion and overland flow by as much as 85 to 90 percent.

                "Growers need creative alternatives to make water go farther. Using groundwater for irrigation is not sustainable. Besides mulch's water-saving and soil benefits," says Camarillo, "by recycling green materials into organic mulch, we’re lowering our greenhouse gas emissions and helping close the recycling loop."

                For more information about Agromin, go to www.agromin.com.

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