Moreno, Marta Maria and Moreno, Carmen and Tarquis Alfonso, Ana Maria
Mulch materials in processing tomato: a multivariate approach..
"Scientia Agricola", v. 70
Mulch materials of different origins have been introduced into the agricultural sector in recent years alternatively to the standard polyethylene due to its environmental impact. This study aimed to evaluate the multivariate response of mulch materials over three consecutive years in a processing tomato (Solanum lycopersicon L.) crop in Central Spain. Two biodegradable plastic mulches (BD1, BD2), one oxo-biodegradable material (OB), two types of paper (PP1, PP2), and one barley straw cover (BS) were compared using two control treatments (standard black polyethylene [PE] and manual weed control [MW]). A total of 17 variables relating to yield, fruit quality, and weed control were investigated. Several multivariate statistical techniques were applied, including principal component analysis, cluster analysis, and discriminant analysis. A group of mulch materials comprised of OB and BD2 was found to be comparable to black polyethylene regarding all the variables considered. The weed control variables were found to be an important source of discrimination. The two paper mulches tested did not share the same treatment group membership in any case: PP2 presented a multivariate response more similar to the biodegradable plastics, while PP1 was more similar to BS and MW. Based on our multivariate approach, the materials OB and BD2 can be used as an effective, more environmentally friendly alternative to polyethylene mulches.