Protective structures (green sheds, polyhouses) are important tools in alleviating abiotic stresses and protecting crops. These structures also provide a controlled environment that protects crops from several adverse environmental conditions. Another important agricultural practice is mulching which involves covering the soil around crops with a layer of organic or inorganic materials. This technique offers several benefits, including protection against abiotic stresses. In this blog, we going to see how this both Protective structures and mulching practices support the crops under different abiotic stress conditions.

How Protective Structures protects crops in different stress conditions:

Temperature: Protective structures such as greenhouses or tunnels provide a controlled microclimate that helps regulate temperatures. They can safeguard crops from extreme heat or cold by minimizing temperature variations and sustaining ideal growing conditions. This is particularly beneficial in areas with harsh climates or during sensitive growth phases of crops. Temperature-sensitive Crops like tomato, chili, capsicum, and cucumber are mostly preferred for cultivation under protective shelters.

                Effective Approaches to Abiotic Stress Management in Agriculture

Wind:  Strong winds specifically in storms and hurricanes can cause physical destruction to crops and lead to moisture loss through increased evaporation. Protective structures act as windbreaks, decreasing the impact of wind on crops. Creating a sheltered environment reduces wind destruction and inhibits wind-related abiotic stresses.

Hailstorms and frost: Hailstorms and frost can severely damage crops and some destroy whole cultivated crops. Protective arrangements like greenhouse as a physical barrier against hail or frost. They decrease the direct impact of hailstones and provide insulation to prevent frost formation. These structures help protect crops from hail and frost damage, safeguarding their sustained growth and yield.

Rain and moisture control: In monsoon in India excessive rainfall can lead to waterlogging and nutrient leaching, causing stress and nutrient deficiencies in crops. Protective structures equipped with proper drainage systems permit control over the amount and timing of water application. They avoid waterlogging and enable efficient water management, decreasing the risk of abiotic stresses associated with excess moisture.

UV radiation: from the last few decades after changing climatic conditions, the intensity of sunlight and ultraviolet (UV) radiation can be injurious to crop health, particularly in regions with high solar radiation. Protective structures can integrate shading materials or UV-blocking layers to decrease the intensity of sunlight and UV radiation reaching the crops. This inhibits sunburn, leaf damage, and excessive evaporation, and mitigates the impact of abiotic stresses caused by UV radiation.

Pest and disease: In the open fields crops are always prone to pests and diseases. Protective structures with fine-mesh shades or netting can efficiently eliminate pests, insects, and airborne diseases from reaching the crops. These structures act as a physical barrier, inhibiting infestations and decreasing the risk of diseases transmitted through vectors. By reducing pest and disease pressure, protective structures contribute to stress mitigation and healthier crop growth.

Improved nutrient and water management: Protective structures provide an enclosed space where nutrient and water inputs can be managed more precisely. This allows for efficient irrigation, fertilization, and nutrient supplementation planned according to crop needs. Through optimizing nutrient and water management, protective structures sustenance healthy crop growth and rigidity to abiotic stresses.


How Mulching Works and Protects the Crop from Abiotic Stresses:

Moisture maintenance: Mulching acts as a blockade, decreasing evaporation and conserving soil moisture levels. This is particularly critical during drought situations or in arid regions. By conserving soil moisture, mulching alleviates water stress on crops and supports them to persist in drought phases.

Temperature control: Mulching acts as a protecting sheet, regulating soil temperatures. It helps to keep the soil cooler during hot weather and warmer during colder days. By providing a more constant temperature environment, mulching decreases temperature-related stresses on crops, such as heat stress or cold stress.

Weed suppression: Mulching hinders the growth of weeds by blocking sunlight, which decreases the struggle for resources such as water, nutrients, and light. Weeds can strive with crops for resources and exacerbate abiotic stress conditions. Mulching suppresses weed growth and permits crops to access vital resources more efficiently.

Prevents soil erosion: Mulching acts as a protective sheet that prevents soil erosion affected by wind or water. Abiotic stresses like wind and heavy rain can lead to soil erosion, which can destructively impact crop health and productivity. Mulching helps to stabilize the soil structure, decreasing erosion and preserving promising growing conditions for crops.

Nutrient retaining: Organic mulches, such as straw or compost, slowly decompose and release nutrients into the soil (specifically it enhances soil carbon content). These nutrients become available to the crops, supporting their growth and assisting them to survive in abiotic stresses. Mulching also decreases nutrient leaching, avoiding the loss of essential nutrients from the rhizosphere.

                                                            Mulching sheets

Disease inhibition: Mulching made from plant residues or straw, can act as a physical barrier against soil-borne pathogens. They help decrease the spread of diseases and defend crops from infections that may happen due to abiotic stresses dwindling their natural resistances.

In conclusion, Protective structures provide farmers with better control over their growing environment, allowing them to handle key factors and safeguard crops from various abiotic stresses. They offer a shield against temperature extremes, wind damage, hailstones, frost, excess rainfall, UV radiation, pests, and diseases. By making promising growing conditions, protective structures increase crop performance, productivity, and tolerance towards abiotic stress. Mulching protects crops from abiotic stresses by preserving moisture, controlling temperatures, suppressing weeds, preventing soil erosion, retaining nutrients, and inhibiting diseases. By making a more advantageous and steady growing environment, mulching improves the rigidity and yield of crops in abiotic stress conditions. Protective structures and mulching can increases the cultivation cost but in changing climatic conditions currently, we can’t avoid these techniques.