Description of practice

Inorganic mulching is the practice of covering the soil surface with non-organic materials (e.g. plastic sheeting or gravel) to preserve soil moisture, increase temperature and reduce erosion. However, it can also have a negative impact by polluting soils with plastic residues, possibly affecting soil biota.

Examples of how to use inorganic mulching Further information
(see Note below)

AMP49 01

Plastic mulch film (white)

Plastic mulch film is used to suppress weeds and conserve water. Crops grow through slits or holes in the thin plastic sheeting. White or metalized films lead to cooler soil and reflection of sunlight to plants.



AMP49 02

Plastic mulch film (black)

Plastic mulch film is used to control weeds, retain soil moisture, save water and reduces maintenance labour. Black films prevent weed growth but do not transmit light to heat up the soil. 

»WOCAT technology 3142

AMP49 03

Biodegradable plastic mulch

Biodegradable plastic mulches are used as an alternative to conventional polyethylene mulch and can be tilled into soil where they are expected to biodegrade.


»Agriplastics Community



AMP49 04


Polytunnels are typically made from steel and covered in polythene and are usually semi-circular, square or elongated in shape. They are used to create a favourable micro-climate and protect crops from extreme conditions.

»Wikipedia Polytunnel


AMP49 05

Gravel mulching

In arid regions, light weight gravel is applied to a depth of at least 1 cm around more mature plants. The mulch reduces soil moisture loss through evaporation, while still obtaining a significant yield.

»Haria Lanzarote


Note: Most of the Further information links are to a full description of the example in the WOCAT database. However sometimes the link may be to similar practices or a research paper. Occasionally the link is to a commercial product in which case it should be understood that this does not imply any endorsement of the product by iSQAPER.

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